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Arthritis footcare and shoes

Several types of arthritis can affect the joints in the feet causing pain, including osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Getting the right shoes that are comfy and supportive can lead to less pain, and will help protect the joints, and may even be seen as part of your arthritis treatment.

Here are some shoe tips:

  • When choosing shoes, if you have arthritis, comfort trumps fashion.
  • Remember, your shoe size or shape may change with age, so make sure you get your feet professionally measured rather than assuming you are the same size and fit you were in your teens.
  • Left and right feet aren’t always the same size, so make sure the bigger foot isn’t squeezed. Use insoles in the other if necessary.
  • Take your usual socks or stockings with you to the shoe shop.
  • Feet also change between sitting and standing, so have them measured when standing up if you can.
  • Feet may also swell during the day, so avoid shoe shopping in the morning to get the right size.
  • If you use insoles or orthotics, take them with you to the shoe shop to make sure they fit.
  • If the shoes aren’t comfortable in the shop, don't assume you'll be able to break them in. Walk out of the shop with the most comfortable shoes you can find.

If you have trouble finding the right style and fit of shoe, ask a podiatrist for advice.

They may suggest certain features, such as more rigid soles instead of flexible ones.

Specific features of shoes to look for or avoid will depend on individual arthritis symptoms and circumstances:

  • Good fastening. Make sure you can do up the shoes easily, especially if arthritis affects your hands. Consider Velcro or similar straps, elastic straps or zips. Consider assistive devices if you have trouble putting shoes on.
  • Leather uppers. These are generally seen as giving the best comfort and, compared with synthetic materials, also reduce the risk of moisture and fungal infections.
  • Cushioned soles. These absorb impacts to protect joints.
  • Smooth linings. These may help with prominent joints or hammer toes.
  • Slippers. Wearing these around the house may also help with hammer toes, but make sure they fit well and won’t increase the chances of trips or falls.
  • Warm linings. Linings, such as sheepskin, may keep the feet warm and also help cushion them.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 14, 2016

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