Shoe insoles have been shown to work in patients with unilateral joint changes. This means only one side of the joint is wearing down. Most often patients have medial joint changes. This means the weight is unevenly placed on the inner edge of the joint.
A shoe insert, insole, or other similar device can help redistribute the weight on the foot up through the knee. Reducing the load on the inner edge of the joint has been shown to reduce painful symptoms. With decreased pain and improved walking, patients can be more active.
A recent study in Japan also showed that such a wedge helped reduce the dynamic load on the joint during walking. It's not always possible to tell who will benefit from this type of treatment and who won't. The Japanese study showed that overall function and quality of life were improved in patients with early, mild joint changes. Such changes were equal among men and women but did not occur with moderate to severe arthritis.
Whether or not this will work for you, may require a trial period. It's not clear how much time is required before changes will occur or be noticed. The type of insole and time needed are both part of the trial and error.