Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lateral Heel Wedges

Medial compartment osteoarthritis often leads to a varus deformity commonly known as being knock-kneed. This alters the biomechanics of the leg and the angle causes an increase in the percentage of body weight taken through the worn half of the knee.

For this reason many treatments for unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis look at addressing this deformity.

These include:

Lateral Heel Wedges.

Lateral heel wedges are thought to work by raising the outside border of the heel that in turn unloads the medial compartment of the knee.

A recent study in Melbourne, Australia looked at the effect of patients wearing these wedges for a period of 12 months.

They found that those wearing the lateral wedges (5 degree inclination) had no difference in pain scores to those in the control group who had zero degree insoles.

The authors also looked to see if there was any difference in the progression of arthritis but again found no difference in cartilage loss or the presence of bone marrow lesions.

The conclusion: Lateral Heel Wedges provide no symptomatic or structural benefits when worn for a period of 12 months.

This is in agreement with the Knee Osteoarthritis Guidelines published by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 2008 (see AAOS Knee Arthritis Guidelines) who included heel wedges in the list of treatments that have been shown to be ineffective.

For more information on the Australian study, click here.

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