A randomized controlled trial of foot orthoses in rheumatoid arthritis

James Woodburn, Sharon Barker, Philip S. Helliwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Patients with RA were randomized to receive custom manufactured rigid foot orthoses under podiatry supervision (n = 50) or enter a control group (n = 48). The control group received foot orthoses only when prescribed under normal medical care. Foot pain and disability, using the Foot Function Index (FFI), along with disease activity, tolerance, and adverse reactions, were serially measured over 30 mo continuous treatment. The group assigned foot orthoses demonstrated an immediate clinical improvement, the effect peaking at 12 mo. At 30 mo the FFI total score was reduced by 23.1% from baseline in the intervention group. Area under the curve analysis showed a statistically significant reduction in FFI scores for total score (p = 0.026), foot pain (p = 0.014), and foot disability (p = 0.016) when intervention was compared to control scores. There were no confounding effects from differences between groups for disease activity or pharmacological or other management strategies. Most patients (96%) used their orthoses and most found them comfortable (97%), although minor adverse reactions, such as tender spots, blisters, and callus, were reported in 30% of patients in the early stages of treatment and persisted in 12% for 30 mo. Custom designed foot orthoses used continuously over a 30 mo treatment period resulted in a reduction in foot pain by 19.1%, foot disability by 30.8%, and functional limitation by 13.5%. Clinical effectiveness might be enhanced by their use in the early stages of rearfoot pain and deformity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2002


  • rheumatology
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • foot orthoses


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