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1.  Unloading shoes for osteoarthritis of the knee: protocol for the SHARK randomised controlled trial 
Background
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and disabling condition. Abnormalities in knee loading play an important role in disease pathogenesis, yet there are few non-surgical treatments for knee OA capable of reducing knee load. This two-arm randomised controlled trial is investigating the efficacy of specially-designed unloading shoes for the treatment of symptoms in people with knee OA.
Methods/Design
164 people with symptomatic medial tibiofemoral joint OA will be recruited from the community and randomly allocated to receive either unloading shoes or control shoes. Unloading shoes have a specially-designed triple-density midsole where the medial side is softer than normal and the lateral side harder as well as a lateral wedge between the sole and sock-liner. Control shoes are standard athletic shoes and do not contain these features. Participants will be blinded to shoe allocation and will be instructed to wear the shoes as much as possible every day for 6 months, for a minimum of 4 hours per day. The primary outcomes are knee pain (numerical rating scale) and self-reported physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index) measured at baseline and 6 months. Secondary outcomes include additional measures of knee pain, knee stiffness, participant global ratings of change in symptoms, quality-of-life and physical activity.
Conclusions
The findings from this study will help determine whether specially-designed unloading shoes are efficacious in the management of knee OA.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference: ACTRN12613000851763.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-48
PMCID: PMC3942305  PMID: 24555418
2.  Efficacy of acupuncture for chronic knee pain: protocol for a randomised controlled trial using a Zelen design 
Background
Chronic knee pain is a common and disabling condition in people over 50 years of age, with knee joint osteoarthritis being a major cause. Acupuncture is a popular form of complementary and alternative medicine for treating pain and dysfunction associated with musculoskeletal conditions. This pragmatic Zelen-design randomised controlled trial is investigating the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of needle and laser acupuncture, administered by medical practitioners, in people with chronic knee pain.
Methods/Design
Two hundred and eighty two people aged over 50 years with chronic knee pain have been recruited from metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, Australia. Participants originally consented to participate in a longitudinal natural history study but were then covertly randomised into one of four treatment groups. One group continued as originally consented (ie natural history group) and received no acupuncture treatment. The other three were treatment groups: i) laser acupuncture, ii) sham laser or, iii) needle acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments used a combined Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine style, were delivered by general practitioners and comprised 8–12 visits over 12 weeks. Follow-up is currently ongoing. The primary outcomes are pain measured by an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS) and self-reported physical function measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster (WOMAC) Universities Osteoarthritis Index subscale at the completion of treatment at 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes include quality of life, global rating of change scores and additional measures of pain (other NRS and WOMAC subscale) and physical function (NRS). Additional parameters include a range of psychosocial measures in order to evaluate potential relationships with acupuncture treatment outcomes. Relative cost-effectiveness will be determined from health service usage and outcome data. Follow-up assessments will also occur at 12 months.
Discussion
The findings from this study will help determine whether laser and/or needle acupuncture is efficacious, and cost-effective, in the management of chronic knee pain in older people.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference: ACTRN12609001001280
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-161
PMCID: PMC3493360  PMID: 22992309

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