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Does foot mobility affect the outcome in the management of patellofemoral pain with foot orthoses versus hip exercises? A randomised clinical trial


Objectives To test (i) if greater foot pronation (measured as midfoot width mobility) is associated with better outcomes with foot orthoses treatment, compared with hip exercises and (ii) if hip exercises are superior to foot orthoses, irrespective of midfoot width mobility.

Methods A two-arm parallel, randomised superiority clinical trial was conducted in Australia and Denmark. Participants (18–40 years) were included who reported an insidious onset of knee pain (≥6 weeks duration); ≥3/10 numerical pain rating, that was aggravated by activities (eg, stairs, squatting, running). Participants were stratified by midfoot width mobility (high ≥11 mm change in midfoot width) and site, randomised to foot orthoses or hip exercises and blinded to objectives and stratification. Success was defined a priori as much better or better on a patient-perceived 7-point scale at 12 weeks.

Results Of 218 stratified and randomised participants, 192 completed 12-week follow-up. This study found no difference in success rates between foot orthoses versus hip exercises in those with high (6/21 vs 9/20; 29% vs 45%, respectively) or low (42/79 vs 37/72; 53% vs 51%) midfoot width mobility. There was no association between midfoot width mobility and treatment outcome (Interaction effect p=0.19). This study found no difference in success rate between foot orthoses versus hip exercises (48/100 vs 46/92; 48% vs 50%).

Conclusion Midfoot width mobility should not be used to help clinicians decide which patient with patellofemoral pain might benefit most from foot orthoses. Clinicians and patients may consider either foot orthoses or hip exercises in managing patellofemoral pain.

Trial registration number ACTRN12614000260628.

  • treatment
  • knee injuries

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