Harvard Health Letter

Don't look to insoles to solve your knee pain


Photo: Thinkstock

Save your money if you're considering investing in a wedge insole to relieve your pain from knee osteoarthritis; a research review published in the Aug. 21, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the shoe inserts do little—if anything—to relieve arthritis pain. Wedge insoles, and in this case lateral wedge insoles, are placed in the shoe to prop up or tilt the outside of your foot. The idea is that it reduces the load on the inner knee joint, where knee arthritis often starts. But after evaluating the results of 12 different shoe-based clinical trials, researchers didn't find an improvement in pain. That finding comes after a recent statement from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which said it couldn't recommend lateral wedge insoles for people with knee osteoarthritis, based on current research. Prices for the inserts range from $10 at a pharmacy to $500 for a custom-fit orthotic. So what should you spend your money on instead? Consider flat-heeled, flexible shoes that mimic the movement of walking barefoot, along with a cane to boost your stability.

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