The Effectiveness of Foot Orthoses in the Treatment of Medial Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review

Gait Posture. 2020 Feb;76:238-251. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2019.12.016. Epub 2019 Dec 19.


Background: Knee osteoarthritis is a disease of the joint causing decreased function and pain. Currently, treatments range from medication to surgery, with the use of different insoles and footwear recommended. These methods are effective by either correcting the position of the knee or providing shock absorption. However, there is little understanding of the effective characteristics of these devices.

Research question: This paper aims to investigate this question and provide future areas of research to help better define treatment guidelines. Foot orthoses are an example of non-pharmacological conservative treatments mentioned in National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines to treat knee osteoarthritis (OA). These include lateral wedge insoles (LWI), developed with the intention of load reduction of the knee. Different footwear has also been shown to affect pain, biomechanical and functional outcomes in knee OA patients.

Methods: To address what features of LWIs and footwear make them effective in the treatment of knee OA, scientific databases were used to search for papers on this topic and then selected to be included based on pre-defined criteria. Data were extracted and analysed from these studies to provide a basis for possible areas for future development of these foot orthoses, and research required to improve clinical treatment guidelines. Databases used were PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science.

Results and significance: Thirty-four out of 226 papers were included after application of inclusion and exclusion criteria. Regarding LWIs, the characteristics showing the most beneficial effect on either biomechanical, functional or pain outcomes were customisation, full-length, 5° elevation, shock absorption and arch support. For footwear, barefoot mimicking soles produced the most favourable biomechanics. Results also showed that insoles work in correcting the position of the knee, but it may or may not affect patients' pain and function.

Keywords: Foot orthosis; Medial knee; Osteoarthritis; Review.

Publication types

  • Review