New treatment option for local people with painful knee osteoarthritis

Friday 2 August 2013
Dr Richard Jones

People in Salford and Manchester with painful osteoarthritis of the knee are being recruited to take part in a brand-new clinical trial which could reduce their pain by altering the way they walk.

Researchers at the University of Salford (funded by Arthritis Research UK) are looking to recruit up to 60 people to test wedge insoles, which could reduce load on the knee joint by correcting the way they walk, and hopefully reduce pain.

Osteoarthritis of the knee affects around six million people in the UK and treatment is currently largely limited to painkillers, exercise and joint replacement.

The most common type, medial knee osteoarthritis, affects the inside of the knee joint between the femur and the tibia and is a painful condition that restricts daily life in those affected.

Local people aged between 40 and 85 who join the study will be asked to walk and climb stairs barefoot and wearing two different insoles in their shoes, and their gait and foot pressure will be analysed.  If found to be eligible for the study, they will then attend three further gait analysis assessments over a 16-week period.

“When we stand, walk or climb stairs, our weight is transmitted through our knee joint,” explained Dr Richard Jones, senior lecturer in clinical biomechanics at Salford, who is leading the study.

”The way this weight is transmitted and its measurement is determined as load. We aim to gain a more thorough understanding of the loading on the knee that leads to osteoarthritis, and the effect that different insoles have on this load.

“Because of the way we walk, we have constant loading on the inside of the knee joint, and this is linked with the progression of disease,” added Dr Jones. “We’re looking at how the knee moves and why it moves in a particular way, using 3D gait analysis to look at the hip, ankle and foot, as well as the knee."

A number of insoles have been designed to potentially lower the loads in the knee joint. Dr Jones and his team believe that these treatments could be extremely popular, effective and inexpensive interventions for osteoarthritis of the knee - if they can understand which one has the best results.

The trial is part of the ROAM (Research into Osteoarthritis in Manchester) project which is running a series of clinical studies at The University of Manchester in collaboration with the University of Salford. The project is led by internationally renowned osteoarthritis expert Professor David Felson from Boston, with funding of £1.8m from Arthritis Research UK.

People with osteoarthritis of the knee who would like to find out more about the research can contact the trial team for further information on 0161 306 0545/0547/0549.