Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are important medical conditions that are considered to be progressively debilitating. In very severe cases of arthritis, be it of the knees, the feet, or the hips. As pain becomes very severe, mobility is correspondingly decreased, especially in the elderly. While joint replacement surgeries do give a new lease of life, they are expensive and may not be the ideal solution for the young elderly, who may have over 3 decades of life in front of them.
In recent times, there has been a lot of research into nonsurgical and methods including the use of specially designed orthotic footwear that can contribute significantly to an alleviation of pain and enhancement of mobility.
Based on biomechanical research, the medical community is realizing that medical shoes such as orthotics and orthopedic footwear can alter a dysfunctional gait pattern or reduce the weight load on a specific joint through intelligent architecture.
Studies on patients with rheumatoid arthritis indicate that the use of a customized orthotic device contributed significantly towards the reduction of pain and also in ease of movement and length of stride taken.
Orthotics may be soft or hard. Hard orthotics are used to prevent pronation of the foot, which can cause flat-footedness and also reduce the pressure on the front of the foot. In consequence, such hard orthotics are associated with a decrease of heel pain and are likely to prevent the development of deformities.
For those with rheumatoid arthritis, the medical shoes must ensure the foot and ankle are well stabilized with the least pressure falling on the plantar region.
There does seem to be a strong link between hip and knee arthritis and alignment of the feet. Generally, people with arthritis of the hip joint are likely to have excessively arched feet, while those with osteoarthritis of the knee joint may have a tendency for flatness of the feet. Provision of supportive orthotic footwear can reduce pain and possibly limit misalignment or deformity stemming from such kinds of arthritis. The use of medical shoes with laterally-wedged insoles in treating medial compartmental knee is also being researched.