Osteoarthritis is a common disease in modern western society. On the one hand, pressure on the joints increases the more a person weighs and, on the other hand, strain is placed on the cartilage for much longer than just 50 years ago as life expectancy keeps increasing. Furthermore, civilized human beings spend most of their time walking on flat, hard everyday floors, and most shoe manufacturers follow the philosophy that a shoe has to support and guide the foot, and must have a small heel. However, our feet are not built for this type of stress. This results in massive improper strain and much faster wear. Ankle osteoarthritis, or osteoarthritis in other parts of the foot such as Hallux valgus (bunions), results from years of improper strain.
Ankle osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder of the ankle joint, especially with advanced age, which is caused by wear of the cartilage surface on the shin bone and ankle bone.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder, caused primarily by discrepancies between the load and load capacity of various parts of the joints and tissue.
Load-dependent pain and restricted joint mobility are characteristic of the disorder. In time only short distances can be covered on foot.
Upper ankle: In the upper ankle (Latin Articulatio talocruralis; also ankle joint), the lower (distal) ends of the shin bone (tibia), the calf bone (fibula), and the ankle bone (talus) form the joint. This is the joint we are talking about in the context of ankle osteoarthritis.
Lower ankle: The posterior chamber of the lower ankle (Articulatio subtalaris) is formed by the ankle bone (talus) and heel bone (calcaneus). The anterior chamber of the lower ankle (Articulatio talocalcaneonavicularis) is formed by the ankle bone, the heel bone and the scaphoid bone (os naviculare).
Causes of ankle osteoarthritis may include various (previous) diseases or (past) injuries involving the foot. However, no precise cause can be determined in about one quarter of all cases.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by excessive weight and excessive strain, such as occurs during extreme sports or when performing heavy physical labor. Causes also include changes in the cartilage metabolism with advanced age,metabolic disturbances, congenital malformations and acquired joint deformities, for example due to inflammatory joint diseases or after an injury.
Years of improper strain on the ankle while walking is another possible cause (see Fig. 1 and 2). The greater the impact while walking and the less precise the movement, the faster the cartilage will wear. The main cause of improper strain on the ankle is the long periods of time we in industrialized western nations spend sitting every day, something that nature did not intend. Sitting for hours leads to the progressive shortening of the hip flexors. As a result, the person is no longer able to achieve a physiologically correct gait with the upper body upright. This in turn leads to excessive strain on the neck and back musculature, incorrect foot, knee and hip position, and therefore to increased cartilage wear.
Pain caused by osteoarthritis can lead to relieving postures, subsequently causing excessive strain on the joints and other body structures or leading to secondary disorders or secondary osteoarthritis. Furthermore, pain leads to a reduction in exercise and those who move less automatically put on more weight. This in turn has a negative effect on osteoarthritis complaints. Many affected by osteoarthritis are therefore caught in a downward spiral. The primary therapy objective is to escape this downward spiral.
Conservative treatment methods in case of ankle osteoarthritis primarily consist of weight loss if necessary, and of movement exercises, which are put together and taught by a physiotherapist. The aim of such exercises is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint. Additional treatment approaches include massage, the application of heat and cold, orthopaedic devices, and surgery when conservative treatment is not successful. The objective of conservative therapy is to maintain joint function and reduce pain.
- Arthrodesis (stiffening of the joint)
- Athroplasty (total joint replacement)
- Cheilectomy (joint rinsing)
The kyBounder and kyBoot are ideal for bringing more movement to everyday life and escaping the downward spiral of osteoarthritis – all without spending any additional time. Acute pain is relieved quickly and longer walking distances are possible again since strain on the ankle joints is reduced.
The soft, elastic foam material acts as a ‘crumple zone’, effectively dampening impact on the joints during running and walking.
Exercise becomes more comfortable again, and the foot complaints are reduced after just a few minutes in most cases. Those who like to exercise frequently find it much easier to shed extra pounds, which in turn reduces strain on the joints. Nearly all customers affected by osteoarthritis report a reduction in pain since they started wearing the kyBoot.
Fig. 3: Ankle joints restricted by shoes, folding in with virtually no dampening of impact, knee and hip highly flexed during heel strike, causing improper strain.
It’s not only the cushioning effect that helps alleviate pain. When standing the soft, elastic supporting underlay, one automatically keeps moving very slightly. When standing and walking on soft, elastic materials, the core stability musculature has to make a major contribution in order to stabilize the joints. Strong core stabilizing musculature ensures an upright posture, resulting in more precise movements in the joints. Lack of exercise due to pain results in long-term muscle loss (amyotrophia). Signs of excessive strain in the foot, knee and hip joint can develop more quickly as a result. The ability to stabilize the joints under strain can be improved further through proprioceptive, sensorimotor and coordinative training on unstable surfaces. This counteracts the progression of osteoarthritis. Training the core stabilizing musculature is easy to integrate into everyday life by wearing the kyBoot.
Attention! Short-term effects are often confused with lasting effects.
The adjustment processes in the body triggered by the kyBoot can take months or even years. Achieving lasting change is a protracted process.
Despite that, the effect of the soft, elastic material can also be felt quickly, for example in the relaxation of tense muscles and the alleviation of pressure points. These short-term effects must not be confused with the effects in the long run, since the long-term adjustment process cannot progress far enough in a week to be perceptible.
Short-term effects, on the other hand, can disappear again just as quickly as they came, or can even turn into complaints if you do not take the necessary breaks in the beginning.
Therefore, it is important to understand that an initial reaction and a reduction of the positive feeling in the first few weeks with the kyBoot does not mean that the kyBoot is no longer working, but merely that the short-term sense of well-being is declining!
Prevention with kybun
Everyone knows that the body is subject to wear, and that problems while walking and running are bound to occur sooner or later. Yet most people only start to consciously perceive their body as a fragile and transient structure once they experience problems. In most cases, however, it is already too late because irreversible damage such as cartilage wear has already occurred.
Therefore it is important to act before pain is felt or is increasing. The kyBounder and kyBoot help protect the joints and prevent osteoarthritis even in youth.
Specific initial reactions with ankle osteoarthritis:
Before you become accustomed to the kyBoot/kyBounder, the soft, elastic sole may feel shaky at first, and lateral/medial rolling of the ankle joint may even occur. Since this can cause pain, it is important to observe the ‘Application tips’.
Click here for the general initial reactions experienced by kyBounder and kyBoot beginners: Initial reactions
For information about the special kyBoot exercises or the basic kyBounder exercises , please click here: kybun exercises
- Upright body posture
- Do not make your steps too long
- Everyday/leisure: Walk with the kyBoot or use the kyBounder as much as possible. Take note of fatigue > perform the kybun exercises regularly and take a short break if needed.
- Job: Sit as little as possible. Alternate sitting and standing in the beginning, and take along replacement shoes to change into
- If you feel unsafe/too unstable in the kyBoot even after a test walk, we recommend a second generation kyBoot model. These have a somewhat wider sole in the area of the midfoot, providing added stability. Seek advice from your local kyBoot expert.
- If you find the second generation kyBoot model too unstable for you as well, we recommend the kyBounder. You can choose the thickness you are comfortable with (the thicker, the less stable, the more intensive the training). You can also hold on to a fixed object. This can be helpful especially in the beginning after the operation, until you regain confidence in the feet.
- Precise movements are essential with osteoarthritis in the foot. Pay attention to exact movements and be sure to take a break in case of fatigue or weakness. Lateral/medial rolling of the ankle joint on the soft, elastic material has to be corrected so that the load is applied to the foot, knee and hip with proper axial alignment. Read more under ‘Lateral/medial rolling of the ankle joint’.