Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2002;28(3):176-183    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.662

Individually fitted sports shoes for overuse injuries among newspaper carriers

by Torkki M, Malmivaara A, Reivonen N, Seitsalo S, Laippala P, Hoikka V

Objectives The aim of the study was to determine the effectiveness of new, individually fitted sports shoes against overuse injuries to the lower limb among newspaper carriers.

Methods Patients (N=176) with lower-limb overuse injuries were randomly assigned to use new, individually adjusted footwear with good shock absorbing properties (test group = 86) or the subjects` own, used footwear (control group = 90). The main outcome measurements were lower-limb pain intensity during walking, as rated on a visual analogue scale (0-100), number of painful days, subjective assessment of global improvement, foot fatigue, number of hyperkeratotic skin lesions and diagnosed overuse injuries, and costs of foot care as compared between the treatment groups.

Results At the 6-month follow-up there was a difference in favor of the test group with respect to lower-limb pain intensity and number of painful days, when compared with the control group. At 1 year, 53% and 33% of the test and control groups, respectively, thought they were better than at the time of the baseline examination (number needed to treat being 5 between the test and control groups). The test subjects had less foot fatigue and fewer hyperkeratotic skin lesions. There was no difference in the number of diagnosed overuse injuries between the groups. During the year of follow-up, the all-inclusive mean costs of foot care were USD 70 and USD 158 in the test and control groups, respectively.

Conclusions Individually adjusted shock-absorbing shoes offer slight health benefits for lower-limb overuse injuries. Proper shoes may decrease the need to use health care resources.