Foot pain is a common problem affecting up to 1 in 5 adults and is known to adversely affect activities of daily living and health related quality of life. Orthopaedic footwear interventions are used as a conservative treatment for foot pain, although adherence is known to be low, in part due to the perception of poor comfort and unattractiveness of the footwear. The objective of this trial was to assess the efficacy of flip-flop style footwear (Foot Bio-Tec©) with a moulded foot-bed in reducing foot pain compared to participant's usual footwear.
Two-arm parallel randomised controlled trial using computer generated random allocation schedule at an Australian university podiatry clinic. 108 volunteers with disabling foot pain were enrolled after responding to an advertisement and eligibility screening. Participants were randomly allocated to receive footwear education and moulded flip-flop footwear to wear as much as they were comfortable with for the next 12 weeks (n = 54) or footwear education and instructions to wear their normal footwear for the next 12 weeks (n = 54). Primary outcome was the pain domain of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ). Secondary outcomes were the foot function and general foot health domains of the FHSQ, a visual analogue scale (VAS) for foot pain and perceived comfort of the intervention footwear.
Compared to the control group, the moulded flip-flop group showed a significant improvement in the primary outcome measure of the FHSQ pain domain (adjusted mean difference 8.36 points, 95 % CI 5.58 to 13.27, p < 0.01). Statistical and clinically significant differences were observed for the secondary measure of foot pain assessed by a VAS and the FSHQ domains of foot function and general foot health. None of the participants reported any pain or discomfort from the intervention footwear and six (footwear group = 4) were lost to follow up.
Our results demonstrate that flip-flop footwear with a moulded foot-bed can have a significant effect on foot pain, function and foot health and might be a valuable adjunct therapy for people with foot pain.
ACTRN12614000933651 . Retrospectively registered: 01/09/2014.