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Researchers analyse footwear experiences of people with musculoskeletal diseases

05 August 2015

Many people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis have difficulty finding suitable, desirable, and comfortable footwear, researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have found.

In a report published in Arthritis Care & Research, researchers emphasised that clinicians who work with people who have chronic musculoskeletal diseases should aim to relieve symptoms by providing footwear advice and where appropriate, therapeutic footwear.

Foot pain and deformities are common in people with musculoskeletal diseases but there is little research which examines the issues this causes in terms of finding shoes.

Of the 85 responses used in the study, many people said they had difficulty finding appropriate footwear, and many were dissatisfied with therapeutic footwear provision, the lack of access to foot care, and the high cost of specialised footwear.

GCU’s Dr Gordon Hendry teamed up with Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand to investigate the main issues surrounding the footwear experiences of people with musculoskeletal conditions, using data from a national survey of people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases in New Zealand.

The results suggest that individuals’ disease-related foot problems such as pain and deformity, as well as gender and personal preferences concerning footwear, should be considered carefully by clinicians who work with people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases to relieve their foot problems.

Dr Hendry said: “An increased knowledge and awareness among clinicians delivering foot care of where and how patients can purchase appropriate shoes could facilitate more effective self-management and reduce the burden experienced by people with chronic musculoskeletal diseases.”

GCU has significant expertise in musculoskeletal health research. Following the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), GCU was ranked in the top 20 in the UK for allied health research at world-leading and internationally excellent standards.