The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of a clinical trial that compares a 6-week, physiotherapist-guided gait retraining program with a foot orthoses intervention in runners with patellofemoral pain.
Runners aged 18-40 years with clinically diagnosed patellofemoral pain were randomly allocated to either a 6-week gait retraining intervention of increasing cadence and use of a minimalist shoe or prefabricated foot orthoses. Outcomes at baseline and 12-weeks included recruitment, retention, adherence, adverse events, global improvement, anterior knee pain scale, worst and average pain on a 100mm visual analogue scale.
Of the 16 randomised participants, two withdrew prior to commencing treatment due to non-trial related matters (n=1 from each group) and 14 completed the pilot trial. Minor calf muscle soreness was reported by 3 participants in the gait retraining group while no adverse events were reported in the foot orthoses group. There were no deviations from the treatment protocols. There was a large between-group difference favouring gait retraining at 12-weeks in the anterior knee pain scale and the worst pain in the past week, which was reflected in the number needed-to-treat of 2.
This study supports the feasibility of a trial comparing gait retraining with foot orthoses and provides point estimates of effect that informs the design and planning of a larger clinical trial. It appears that a 6-week gait retraining program has a clinically meaningful effect on runners with patellofemoral pain when compared to an evidence-based treatment of foot orthoses.