Functionally optimized orthoses for early rheumatoid arthritis foot disease: a study of mechanisms and patient experience

Kellie S. Gibson, James Woodburn, Duncan Porter, Scott Telfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



To investigate the mode‐of‐action and patient experience of functionally optimized foot orthoses in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).



We conducted an investigation of 2 functionally optimized foot orthoses (selective laser sintering [SLS] and fused deposition modelling [FDM]) in 15 patients with RA of <2 years duration. The novel devices were optimized for 3 biomechanistic targets exploiting computer‐aided design and additive manufacturing. A third standard device was used as the comparator (standard foot orthosis [SFO]). Foot and ankle biomechanical effects were compared. Adverse reactions, orthotic fit and comfort, and short‐term symptom benefits were also monitored.



Both FDM (P = 0.028) and SLS (P < 0.0001) orthoses significantly reduced peak rearfoot motion in comparison to shod. The average ankle internal moment was significantly decreased in the SFO (P = 0.010) and approached significance in the SLS (P = 0.052) orthosis. SFO, FDM, and SLS orthoses significantly increased the peak height of the medial foot arch between 3.6 to 4.4 mm (P < 0.001). Peak pressures in the medial (P = 0.018) and lateral forefoot (P = 0.022) regions of interest were significantly reduced for the SLS orthosis. SFO, FDM, and SLS orthoses significantly increased midfoot contact area (P < 0.001 for all conditions). In comparison to SFO, SLS and FDM orthoses provided equivalent or better patient experience. No adverse reactions were reported.



Functional optimization is a feasible approach for orthoses prescription in early RA and has the potential to provide superior mode‐of‐action responses for biomechanical therapeutic targets compared to standard devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1456-1464
Number of pages9
JournalArthritis Care and Research
Issue number10
Early online date8 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014



  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • foot disease
  • podiatry

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