Since footwear is commonly used every day, its influence on knee joint loading and thereby on the development and progression of osteoarthritis may be crucial. So far the influence of footwear has been examined only indirectly. The aim of this study was to directly measure the effect of footwear on tibiofemoral contact loads during walking. Instrumented knee implants with telemetric data transmission were used to measure the tibiofemoral contact forces and moments in six subjects. The loads during walking with four different shoes (basic running shoes, advanced running shoes, classical dress shoes and shoes with a soft rounded sole in the sagittal plane (MBT)) were compared to those during barefoot walking. Peak values of all six load components were analyzed. In general, footwear tended to increase knee joint loading slightly, with the dress shoe being the most unfavorable type of footwear. At the early stance phase all load components were increased by all shoe types. The resultant force rose by 2-5%, the internal adduction moment by 7-12% and the forces on the medial compartment by 3-5%. Significant reductions of the resultant force were solely observed for the advanced running shoe (-6%) and the MBT (-9%) shoe at late stance. Also the medial compartment force was slightly yet non-significantly reduced by 2-5% with the two shoes. It is questionable whether such small load changes have an influence on the progression of gonarthrosis. Future research is necessary to examine which factors regarding the shoe design, such as heel height, arch support or flexibility are most decisive for a reduction of knee joint loading.
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