Rheumatologists care for patients with assistive devices such as knee braces or foot orthotics. Although not involved in fitting patients with the appliances, rheumatologists still need to know how to manage these patients and evaluate how their assistive devices work to lessen pain and other problems.
“An orthotic is a device meant to assist a part of the body to achieve functional tasks,” says Howard Hillstrom, PhD, director of the Leon Root, MD, Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “Knee osteoarthritis [KOA] can be treated in many ways, ranging from pharmaceuticals to nutraceuticals, exercise, and surgery, when indicated. Orthotics is a part of our armamentarium and can address pain as well as its root causes.”
Malalignment, high body mass index (BMI), and tissue injury, such as torn ligaments, are the three major reasons for developing KOA and foot problems. Orthotics are designed to address these issues by improving alignment and redistributing joint loads. Based on the concept that lower-extremity structure and function are related, improving structure should help alleviate functional problems.
Currently, the use of orthotic devices such as bracing and support remains unsettled. Clinical trials have not yet provided unequivocal evidence that allows practitioners to know exactly the role orthotics can play among patients with KOA and/or foot pathologies.| | | Next → | Single Page