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Health Beat: Taking a 'load off' joint pain with mobility shoes

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 02 2013 12:05:22 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 02 2013 04:36:23 PM CST

One in two Americans will develop knee osteoarthritis at some point in his or her lifetime.

CHICAGO -

One in two Americans will develop knee osteoarthritis at some point in his or her lifetime, and if you suffer from this painful joint disease, you know how challenging it can be to stay moving.

But what if changing something as simple as your shoes could cut down on knee pain without medication or surgery?

Every step you take puts five times your body’s weight on your knees and joints, but for those with osteoarthritis, the pressure can be unbearable.

"When that pain won’t go away, it's debilitating," said Jim Harvey, whose pain began decades ago while carrying his two young girls. "I missed a step and I felt something go on my knee."

Harvey considered surgery, but instead enrolled in a new study that did not involve a trip to the operating room.

"We hope that if we can reduce load in some way, that we will prevent progression of arthritis and improve pain," said Dr. Najia Shakoor, associate professor of medicine and rheumatologist, Rush University Medical Center.

Prior research shows walking barefoot is the best way to reduce load on the knees, but that’s not always practical.  That’s where the new mobility shoe comes in.

"We designed the shoe to essentially mimic being barefoot. So, you would still have some protective cover on your foot, but you would get a very natural barefoot-like gait," Shakoor said.

Results show after six-months, participants saw an 18 percent decrease in joint load, without drugs or surgery.

You may also find relief by just looking for a flat, flexible-soled shoe.

"Go out there and find a shoe that bends. See if it is sole bends and try it out," Shakoor suggested.

For Jim, it's been life-changing.

“Now, I don’t want to take them off,” Jim said.

It's a simple shoe that is making life more comfortable.

The mobility shoes run between $129 and $149.

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