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Open Access Study protocol

Rocker-sole footwear versus prefabricated foot orthoses for the treatment of pain associated with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis: study protocol for a randomised trial

Hylton B Menz12*, Pazit Levinger13, Jade M Tan12, Maria Auhl12, Edward Roddy4 and Shannon E Munteanu12

Author Affiliations

1 Lower Extremity and Gait Studies Program, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora 3086, Victoria, Australia

2 Department of Podiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora 3086, Victoria, Australia

3 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne 8001, Victoria, Australia

4 Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, UK

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:86  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-86

Published: 15 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Osteoarthritis affecting the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the foot is a common condition which results in pain, stiffness and impaired ambulation. Footwear modifications and foot orthoses are widely used in clinical practice to treat this condition, but their effectiveness has not been rigorously evaluated. This article describes the design of a randomised trial comparing the effectiveness of rocker-sole footwear and individualised prefabricated foot orthoses in reducing pain associated with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis.

Methods

Eighty people with first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis will be randomly allocated to receive either a pair of rocker-sole shoes (MBT® Matwa, Masai Barefoot Technology, Switzerland) or a pair of individualised, prefabricated foot orthoses (Vasyli Customs, Vasyli Medical™, Queensland, Australia). At baseline, the biomechanical effects of the interventions will be examined using a wireless wearable sensor motion analysis system (LEGSys™, BioSensics, Boston, MA, USA) and an in-shoe plantar pressure system (Pedar®, Novel GmbH, Munich, Germany). The primary outcome measure will be the pain subscale of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ), measured at baseline and 4, 8 and 12 weeks. Secondary outcome measures will include the function, footwear and general foot health subscales of the FHSQ, severity of pain and stiffness at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (measured using 100 mm visual analog scales), global change in symptoms (using a 15-point Likert scale), health status (using the Short-Form-12® Version 2.0 questionnaire), use of rescue medication and co-interventions to relieve pain, the frequency and type of self-reported adverse events and physical activity levels (using the Incidental and Planned Activity Questionnaire). Data will be analysed using the intention to treat principle.

Discussion

This study is the first randomised trial to compare the effectiveness of rocker-sole footwear and individualised prefabricated foot orthoses in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint, and only the third randomised trial ever conducted for this condition. The study has been pragmatically designed to ensure that the findings can be implemented into clinical practice if the interventions are found to be effective, and the baseline biomechanical analysis will provide useful insights into their mechanism of action.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613001245785