Rheumatoid Arthritis: Which Shoes to Choose

Correct footwear is essential to help keep your feet happy

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common severe inflammatory disorder and for many it is chronic and progressive, resulting in reduced activity and limited mobility. The most common problems in the foot are toe clawing, bunions and pain under the forefoot. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have problems with circulation to the feet and are also more susceptible to fungal infections of the skin and nails. Appropriate footwear for comfort, mobility and stability is part of the management of the foot problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

     When purchasing new shoes try to follow these tips:
  1. A broad and stable heel with a height which doesn’t put pressure on the ankle joint of the forefoot.
  2. A shock absorbing sole to reduce the pressure on the forefoot in particular.
  3. Uppers that are soft enough to be ‘forgiving’ on the joints and tissues but not so soft that they collapse.
  4. Width and depth to accommodate the forefoot but a snug fit around the heel to prevent pressure on the foot.
  5. Linings which are breathable and ‘wick’ moisture away from the skin so that the skim is more resistant to fungal infections.
  6. Fastenings (either lace, strap or touch fastening) to hold the foot in the back of the shoe to prevent slippage and damage to the skin.
  7. Easy access, meaning that the upper of the shoe has to be able to ‘open up’ sufficiently for the foot to slip into without squeezing the joints of the foot.
So what really does make happy feet? 
Having made footwear now for sixty years we’ve had lots of opportunity to discuss this with customers, members of the public and a range of health care professionals and have come to the conclusion that different things make different feet happy.
  1. For people with heel pain, shoes with underfoot cushioning can provide some relief
  2. For those who lack sensation in their toes due to diabetes it is vital to have smooth internal seams
  3. To help prevent bunions you must make sure there’s plenty of space around and on top of your toes
  4. If you need to wear orthotics then shoes with removable insoles may be helpful
  5. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis look for shock absorbing soles to reduce the pressure on the forefoot in particular

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