Bringing information & encouragement to fight RA
Birkenstocks are wonderful for RA feet. I wear them all the time. I have several pair. Don’t call me weird, but in the winter, I wear them with socks around the house. They’re my bedroom shoes, my wear to the store shoes; well you get the idea. I wear those sandals all the time. The way the bottom conform to your feet is wonderful.
I do like the Easy Spirit stores, I even found a pair of sandles last year (and not the ones you slip on) that I was able to wear.
The only shoe I’ve worn for years & swear by is “SAS” hand made shoes that fit from the get-go. I can’t say they are good for arthritic feet, my RA hasn’t quite hit there yet but, I am about to buy another pair of SAS shoes. They have velcrow closure tabs that last forever, I’ve been wearing my current SAS shores for approx. 4 years now. Good Luck.
I have been wearing Fitflops–they are comfortable with cushiony soles and room for swelling.
My feet were probably the first to go. And most likely years before I was told I had RA.
I am a “shoe horse”. I loved shoes.( Notice I said loved!) Then my back went goofey and then the toes started curling. I wore darling shoes all my life. I now go for comfort not darling and very wide toes. I usually wear New Balance one size too big so I can get my orthotics and a small lift ( thanks to my back). I can wear some of my many Birkenstock sandals in the summer, but my orthotic doesn’t work in those. In the winter I can wear Merrell slides and the orthotic works in those. They are at least a little more stylish than my tennis shoes. For church in the winter I wear a pair of black clunky , big toed shoes, I get at Penny’s. I think they are called Comfort somethings.. Any way that is my shoe story from someone as a child who could recognize who you were when playing 7 UP( You had to put your head down on the desk and someone would come by and tap you) If I peeked and saw the shoes I knew who they were…
I realize there is more to us than our shoes and yes if that is all I have to complain about then I am pretty darned luckY….I know, I know… but I dream of running, whick I have never been able to do and dreams of cute size 6 shoes instead size 9 tennis shoes!!
Hi Steph! It all sounds very familiar. My feet have hurt almost my whole life long. I found some Born sandles recently that I can “stand” to have on for a couple of hours. Of course I actually sit & take them off most of the time. Anyway, I was so excited to find something more pretty that I could stand for even a few minutes – I still LoVe shoes I can’t help it! ♥
I made my acquaintance with RA in February, and have already bought Born sandals and a pair of Earth shoes. The Born are more comfortable overall, and prettier, but the Earth shoes have deep heel cups that force me to put my heel down first when walking, and take the pressure off the forefoot.
Earth shoes have really helped me!
Hi everyone. Last year, prior to my RA diagnosis my feet were hurting me more than any other part of my body. I lived in Crocs Mary Janes. But being in WI, they are impractical eight months out of the year. In the spring, fall and winter I have been wearing the old workboots I wore when I was still working in landscaping—Blundstone 500 series. The past nine months I’ve been working indoors in the floral industry, on hard concrete floors—and the Blundstones have been outstanding. Just bought two more pairs. I’ve exhausted most other options (Clarks, Birkenstock, Dansko, Merrell, Keen, Timberland) and keep coming back to the Blunnies! With two pairs of socks they are warm and virtually waterproof; my toes turn blue in winter and hurt unless I keep them dry and warm and the Blunnies have been a lifesaver.
I have whittled my favorite wardrobe essentials -shoes- down by many pairs. After 3 years of hoping I would once again be able to wear some of my old shoes, I finally threw them out. I no longer can always be found in the shoe department of any store because I no longer wish to have shoes on my feet. I wish only to make my short grocery trips shorter with as little walking as possible. I wear slippers at home to protect my feet from the hard floor, and wear open sandals to allow my toe joints freedom from being touched. The winter forces me to wear shoes and I look for some that don’t bend so my feet do not have to flex with each step. Yes, RA in every joint in my body hurts. A lot and all the time. I ignore it as much as possible, and do what I can, but I do pay later for excess activity. I find it annoying when I’m asked about my exercise program. Sure I want to spend time on a treadmill so that I get to spend time hobbling around for days afterward. Aargh!
I love my Birkenstocks. I am at home more than away from home now; I work from home, and I wear them all the time. I do put on a pair of Nike or new balance when I do walking and occasionally, I wear a dress shoe if I have to. But I have to say that what’s helped my feet the most is my Birks. I am glad I found them when my feet were so bad 12 years ago. I’ve been wearing them constantly ever since. And I won’t ever be without them
I have been wearing Sketchers for the past year and find them the most comfortable if I am going to be on my feet much, whether at home or shopping. even if I wear dress flats, I make sure I add a good arch support insert if the shoes do not have them.
The other most helpful thing to me is to take the time to wear graduated support hose, which my husband has to help me witn most days. This keeps my feet and legs from swelling as badly.
I have only been diagnosed with RA for 6 months and it started only in my feet. I wear crocs and birkenstocks but I had to buy tennis shoes a size bigger to wear to work. My question is (and I know you can’t answer it) but will I really not be able to wear any of my shoes ever again
crocs. new and improved! i like the ones with the new bottoms that take the weight off of the toes when you step. also the sketchers shape-ups – again, a rigid shoe with no weight on the delicate toes bones!i wear slip on padded leather shoes such as clogs when i have to “dress up” which is rare in my lifestyle luckily.
I am sorry if this was mentioned previously but the best person I have ever found to help with shoes is a pedorthist. They are tough to find and even doctors correct you when you ask for one because they assume you mean podiatrist. I had a great one in Rochester NY but the closest in Dallas area was 1 1/2 hours away so I went to an orthotist instead (I wear a custom AFO). I haven’t found one in NC yet. Pedorthists specialize in walking and have a large selection of shoes on hand plus a lab in the back to customize them. I think Rheums and Orthopods need to be better educated on our requirements
I was floored reading this posting. Firstly, I’ve not known anyone else with Palendromic Rheumatism and your description of foot joint problems mirrors my own VERBATIM. I spent five months in a wheelchair in 2010 after bunion surgery gone awry and am now facing joint replacement in the other foot. Given I’m packing an extra fifty pounds around – thank you Prednisone – this likely won’t be pretty. Shoes were once prized by me – Prada from LA, Stuart Weitzman from NYC, three inch, four inch, platform or stiletto I loved my heels and how height grew to almost 6 ft. The pain and swelling now has me relegated to Keene’s – I LOVE, Dansko’s but they are heavy, ECCO has a few athletic styles that are UBER comfy, I have the BORN clogs pictured here and they are ok for a few hours then the twisted toes pushed into the toe box begin to rebel. I’ve had alot of knee surgery and can tell you that I’d rather have repeat knee surgery than deal with this foot pain, it seldom goes away and as a VERY active/busy person, I get angry that the pain actually stops me. I’ve started icing the joint and that provides a good hour of relief but it isn’t for the faint hearted, feet are sensitive. One thing I know for sure, I’ll never get back into those sexy heels I once prized. Bring on the thick merino wool sox and caveman looking dansko’s – they may be hideous to look at but I can walk for a few hours.
I’ve been to the podiatrist and had inserts custom molded for my feet, which did nothing for me. The podiatrist would put me in “Forest Gump” white athletic shoes which I refuse to wear unless I’m in a flare that prevents me from walking at all. After my bunion surgery, performed by a Podiatrist, the joint completely blew out. I learned early on, that a Podiatrist is not appropriate for an RA Patient. A Podiatrist (and I speak in general terms)is ill informed on RA, both long term effects, treatments and how they would interface with Podiatric treatments and surgery. I would never see a Podiatrist again – only an Ortho who specializes in the treatment of the foot and has a background of working with RA patients. My choice of doctors cost me five months in a wheelchair, don’t let that happen to you.
My feet hurts so bad sometimes I don’t know whether to crawl or walk, but I can’t crawl because my knees are deformed and it would be very painful. I only purchase shoes with good support and cushion. I don’t look for style, fashion, trend, etc. I look for comfort! I don’t wear heels or if I have a little height to the shoe it’s under 1 1/2 inches.
I love Spira shoes for everyday wear. They are made in my home town. Though not the most fashionable, they are extremely comfortable because they have springs in them and reduce impact on the joints. I am a teacher and have to be on and off my feet all day and they are fantastic shoes!
I, too, have shoe issues. I never much was one for collecting shoes, so I only have a couple of pairs on my shelf I will never wear again, but oddly enough, I can’t give them away. I guess its just that I like the thought of wearing pretty shoes.
For the last two months I’ve worn nothing but my slippers (Avon, memory foam soles). They look a little like wool clogs so I’ve been able to get away with wearing them to work, but I am not sure what I am going to do when the weather changes and its too warm to wear them (I wear them with a pair of Dr Scholes diabetic socks).
I have been attempting to find “real” shoes, but have not been able to find anything that fits that I can afford. And I suppose at some point as a professional, I should find something other than slippers to wear to work.
I appreciate this blog, Kelly — I’m hoping I can find something to wear after all the recommendations.
I wear new balance shoes everywhere. But the only way they work is w/orthotics made by specialist. Also due to the room I need I have to buy a shoe that is 2 1/2 sizes too big. I get nodules so big on the bottom of my feet so I can’t walk w/out these. I have had surgeries to remove them but they come back.
Merrell Encore Breeze 2 – love them. I’ve worn them for more than 10 years. They are casual, but can go with work/business pants(definitely not with dresses, though). They are slip-ons, important for the days when the body doesn’t want to bend, but they have enough heel that you don’t have to hold onto them with your toes. I don’t like most clogs because I feel like I have to grip with my toes. The shoe is made of a soft mesh, not leather. There is plenty of room in the front of the shoe, but the mesh is both breathable and so comfy, expands when needed with swollen toes (or any bunion-like problems). I first discovered them when I lived in Miami; they are very cool on a hot day. A few people I’ve recommended them to found the arch support wrong (we all have different anatomy), but most people I’ve recommended them to have loved them.
I’ve found that Sketchers ShapeUps are wonderful for my RA feet. They keep the pressure off the balls and heels of my feet. There’s a bit of a learning curve to walking in them, but worth it.
I found some shoes made by Soft Walks that are great. The foot bed is very soft & cushy, feels like a mattress. They still offer plenty of support for your foot.
SAS. Only shoes I can wear now. I call them my Serious Old Lady Shoes. And I’m not seriously old yet — just turned 50. When I say the only shoes, I mean it. The other shoes I have are all orthopedic comfort shoes, but not suitable for the RA I have in my feet. I had to get the SAS shoes 6 months into having RA, after a fall. My ankles are the most affected by my RA.
I have a love-hate relationship with my SAS shoes. On the one hand, any walking I can still do is when I am wearing them, so I’m really grateful for that. But they are huge (in my case, to fit orthotics) and really ugly. I wear them even if I get up to go the kitchen, that’s how bad my feet hurt if I don’t wear them.
I’ll know I’m in remission when I don’t have to wear my SAS shoes!
I like Borne, (they’re always comfy), Danskos are good for work, and clarks are usually roomy and good quality. I am still able to get away with a wedge type dress shoe from time to time (I take seated breaks when I have to). Miss my heels!
I don’t think anyone has mentioned it yet, but Dr Scholls has a line of comfy shoes. Boy did that name jump out to me when I was shoe shopping last year (also with 4 little ones running around the store). I have the cross-trainers, and I have worn them every day since I bought them. Though I wish I could branch out from sneakers, it seems unlikely since the 3 hours of Sunday shoes(wide flats in the next size up) each week really tire out my feet. Do you think I would get strange looks in my Sunday best and grungy old sneakers, better yet, fluffy memory foam slipper? Se la vie! Just glad to be walking, even if it is a granny shuffle.
I can totally relate to the shoe thing and the bunion looking deformities appearing overnight. The only shoes I found that don’t hurt are slippers depending on the style, or Crocs which make my size 10-11 foot look like Sasquatch. My feet still after 5 yrs feel like I’m walking on rocks…that’s exactly how I describe it to people.
Kelly, RA Warriors is such an awesome site and I’m sure you know how much people use and rely on this site for info…you are truly an RA Angel.
I have a closet full of shoes none of which I can wear for more than an hour. I have two pair of the ones in your first photo that I wear in winter even through the deepest snow. I’m currently waiting for foot surgery and unfortunately Crocs are the only comfortable things right now. I don’t have advice but I always carry a second pair with me in case I have to change. Sucks…ciao
The best shoes for my R.A. feet are also the cheapest. They are fabric “mary jane” style shoes sold by Walmart for less than 10 bucks. In fact, they are so cheap that they hang up by the flip flops – too cheap for a box. But, they weigh NOTHING and have the softest insoles. I bought three pairs and plan to buy more because they are the only shoes that my feet can tolerate on bad days.
Yes, i think over the years i have wasted so much money on shoes, as if they hurt, i won’t wear them. Surgery at 15 for RA, so am missing a metatarsal and tendons and they need support. I find soft leather the best, Reiker, Naot and Pikolinos are my favourites. Really struggle without shoes on. But because i can cover them up, people only ask about my hands!I always use a shoe horn, and carry one in my bag in case i have to take my shoes off and will struggle to get them back on.
Walking on concrete is awful, luckily i don’t have to do that much.
All my shoes are ankle shoes or i walk over, that makes summer hot but at least i can walk and am grateful for that.
I have finally found Skechers ‘Go Walk’ and they work for me. The style I have are canvas top, and can be thrown right in the washing machine. The bottom of the shoe is wide and very squishy, so my feet are never jolted when they touch the ground, and the toe section is roomy. I have been looking for years and these are the ones that work best for me. They are also very extremely light weight, hardly like a shoe at all.
My rheumatologist told me that I have had RA in my feet for years. I have severe pronation, hammertoes and peripheral neuropathy in my feet. They hurt before I even get out of bed in the morning. I have spent a lot of money on shipping shoes back to FootSmart and other sites because I have tried so many kinds of shoes. My main problem is the pronation on my left foot. The woman at Foot Solutions got me into Drew Bloom II shoes that have a strap and velcro so I can adjust them when my feet swell. I also have a pair of Fin Comfort sandals with a strap ($234.00). These are the only shoes I have found that will give me enough support so I am not walking on the inside of my foot. Lately they are killing my feet. I have spent many hours and tried on many pairs of shoes looking for a solution to this problem. I would love a pair of soft slippers for around the house but have not been able to find any that will work. I have kept some of my shoes too, just to look at I guess because I will never be able to wear them. For a shoe freak like me giving up my cute shoes hurt. Will be condemned to wearing ugly shoes forever I guess. Have also given up skirts and dresses and have a wardrobe of black pants that semi-hide my ugly shoes.
Skechers slip on walking shoes, no strings, super comfy, at JCPenney, reasonably priced. i can even get them on without hands at all, which is important most mornings as my feet tend to wake up and work faster than my hands.Now if I could just manage buttons and zippers.
I’m still in the early years of RA – but the shoe search has definitely commenced. I mourn not being able to wear anything with a heel — all in a box at the top of my closet (just in case). Who am I kidding? I live in Phoenix – so I get to wear flip flops most times – but not any will do. My new fave’s are Skechers with the nubby soles that massage the bottom of your feet. Black, white, pink and blue – with crystal bling – love them! My Borns are ok as are running shoes of course. Thanks everybody for the ideas. I LOVE this website! It makes me feel not so alone!
PS – for mattresses – pre-RA, we got a Tempurpedic (middle of the line) … BEST investment EV-ER! You will not be disappointed, I promise you!
Blessings to all of you!
Welcome, Lori. It’s nice to meet you. You’re so right about getting a great mattress – I advocate that too – rest is a key with RA.
We are planning to come out to Phoenix again next spring for a gathering of patients – maybe we’ll get to meet you!
FYI…I’ve found CROCS to be very supportive and comfortable. There are days that NO shoe helps the pain, but after the flare ups subside, CROCS have been a miracle. I’ve noticed that the flatter the shoe (no arch), the worse my feet do. If I have an arch and a little bit of a heal, my feet doing pretty well. Crocs has tons of styles now, for work, for play, for comfort. You will need to visit a crocs store and just start testing them out. With so many to choose from, you will find something that works. They are roomier and larger so they don’t restrict your feet which is really nice. Now, I’m on the hunt for socks that don’t cut off the circulation in my feet!!!
I buy socks for diabetic feet. They often have padding on the foot bottom and fewer seams inside the sock. They are also non-constricting.
I have some socks that actually bruise my calf. Them I gave away
Merrells and Crocs are my answer to foot pain. I have one pair of 1″ black heels for dress wear. I don’t wear them often.
I have no advice regarding shoes.. I have a pair of Clarks that I can wear sometimes.. for short periods.I have had to buy shoes two sizes larger just so I can get them on. So instead of an eight I am wearing a ten… with a velcro close of course. I have also found that an extra large size in a suede moccasin is soft enough to get me from place to place without much pain but sometimes even socks are impossible. Reading this article I was sure you had managed to duplicate my feet somehow… I look with longing at pumps with a small heel in electric blue!! but alas I can’t even manage a wedge.. flats only.
I was so glad to read all these comments. I too have now made a list of all the brands mentioned here to check out.
My sisters are “treating” me to a trip to Spain and Italy. And while I’m excited about the opportunity, I am in a panic about shoes and being able to walk around when I need to. I just recently (the past year) have had increasing trouble with my feet. None of my shoes feel comfortable or don’t fit anyore and I didn’t know what to do. Everything I have tried so far has been a dismal failure.
Thank you, thank you to all that have taken the time to respond here.
Hi everyone: Now I am really disappointed. Just started MTX shots 3 weeks ago and was so hoping that once the meds kick in, then my feet would not hurt anymore. Doesn’t sound promising but I guess anything is possible. Went from a size 5 1/2 shoe- little feet to a size seven to fit the orthotics. I call them Abner boots. Shoes Finn Comfort, complete with velcro straps – cost $400.00 from the specialist and cambrian sandles $250.00 also from the specialist for summer. Prior to buying these 2 pairs of shoes, I blew approx $1,000 buying shoes that didn’t fit. I kept thinking I would find something that wouldn’t kill my feet. When it snows, I am out of luck cause I haven’t replaced my little boots yet. I finally gave all my cute little shoes away, these feet will never fit in them again. I will be coming off steroids in another week and hopefully these silly feet won’t swell up like they did before. The pain is bearable right now so long as I don’t spend any longer than 1 hour walking or shopping. Has anyone had the pain in the feet totally go away after a while on MTX??? I am so thankful for this site.
I am an RA neophyte-official diagnosis came on October 6 this year. Had been having symptoms for several years which I was blaming on the extra weight I carry. I realize in hindsight it was the RA rearing its ugly head. I have been going back to a pair of open back Sketchers which I have had for several years because anything that is close to my ankle bones (or the big lumps below each) makes it impossible to walk at all. Birkenstock clogs were working well but now have some major discomfort at the base of my toes on the bottom. Some days have to use a cane, that was a tough pill to swallow. Can’t wait to go shoe shopping and try on some of these brands. I had thought perhaps a ballet shoe might work for holiday dress-ups.Didn’t realize how widespread (pun, pun) the foot problem is. Good to know there is some hope of finding something that will not cause extra pain. How is a gal supposed to function with one pair of shoes??
****BEST SOLUTION I’VE FOUND 20+ YEARS WITH RA***My feet ache all the time. I tried orthodics and found them to be too stiff and hard the pain continued. I have given up on any other shoes other than ones like easy spirits–THICK SPONGEY SOLES ARE A MUST! Most of the shoes I own now are traveltime with the open back. Closed shoes tend to make my achilles tendon flair up. I buy them one size bigger and put insoles in them to provide extra cushioning. This has been my shoe solution to achey RA feet.
Dansko shoes are the best! Expensive, but worth it. Now, when my feet hurt, I even wear my danskos at home around the house. Can’t tolerate slippers anymore.
A brand I did not see mentioned that has worked very well for me are Chacos. Just google them to find info on-line, or go to an outdoors store like EMS or REI to check them out.
I just bought a pair of Easy Spirit 360 shoes and they are absolutely the best shoes for my feet since being diagnosed. They have soft mesh fabric tops that are stretchy and it feels like I’m wearing socks. Highly reccommend them to all RA feet.
I sympathize as I too have had similar foot problems. Even my custom made podiatrist shoe inserts hurt my feet. What I have found that helps is to change shoes several times a day, and to rest my feet before they get sore. I also use ice water soaks to relieve swelling. As much as I hate those, they help.
My best shoes are 4 pairs, all made in Europe and available at my Birkenstock dealer. My favorite casual shoes are Finns from Germany ($400 Canadian) They have no seams that can rub on swollen feet or weird deformities. I also have a pair of clogs made of felt, a pair of boots with heels for dressier occasions, a pair of sandals and a good pair of hiking boots. All European made, a bit on the expensive side, but well worth it. Im looking for a pair of dress shoes at the moment. The European shoes sold at my Birkenstock dealer will last for years, and the Finns are what many podiatrists will recommend.
Sears in Canada carries Finn. These are excellent shoes for my RA because they are shaped the same as a natural foot. They are not shaped like most american made shoes.
I have come to the point that I no longer care about style, i need shoes to,provide comfortband support! My SI joints are so painful sitting for more than a few minutes is intolerable, at work I stand most of the day.
The best sneakers I’ve ever worn are Brooks. I wore the first pair out in 4 years! I just got my new pair! I can’t wait to try them (as soon the pain in my back subsides enough to walk on my treadmill again). I love them so much that I chose Brooks to be my first affiliate link on my website.
I find that changing shoes does work from time to time. I have the same problem. There is no shoe that helps when you are in pain on a daily basis. I have shopped for shoe’s to aleviate pain and none seem to do the trick. So I switch up the ones I have. That’s about all you can do!
I wear Kalso Earth shoes the most often. I have an egg farm and every morning have outside chores that require walking on uneven surfaces, so I wear a lace-up sneaker-type Earth shoe. I also really like Alegrias, which are a clog type of shoe, and sometimes wear Reikers, Borns, or Jambus. I mostly wear clothes from Costco, Kmart, or Target, but I splurge on my shoes. Still, I try to buy my shoes on clearance whenever I can.
All told I spent about $600 on podiatrist custom made shoe inserts for arch support. What a waste. I dont even use them as they are too hard and hurt my feet- even after months of trying to get used to them. In that process, I discovered one leg was 1/2 inch shorter than the other. Wore a shoe insert for that, temporarily and was able to correct the imbalance with chiropractic adjustment. I do have RA foot involvement and although diagnosed 4 yrs ago, have yet to find an effective Rx regimen, so Im poorly controlled.I buy all my shoes at Birkenstock. All are various European brands. Roomy toe box, good support. My favorite and most worn shoes are Finns, because they have no seams that can rub on toe joints, and they are velcro closure. I also found some really cute high heeled boots, which are quite comfortable because they dont compress the foot. And I found some nice looking dress shoes too, along with great sandals. Our local dealer is great, you can actually try the shoe out and if you have issues, you can bring it back and they have a lay away program. (the Finns were over $400) Altogether I think I spent almost $1000 in shoes …but they last and last. I think of shoes as an investment now.
I wear Klogs USA clogs. They are very cushy inside with a big toe box. You can also take out the insert and put your own insert in if you like.
My rheumatologist asked me what brand they were because they looked like good RA shoes to her.
Caveat: I do not have RA problems with my feet (my problems are ankles and knees in that area). If you order a pair from zappos.com online, they let you return them for free if they don’t work. That’s where I bought mine.
Good luck! I hope this is an old blog entry and your feet are feeling better now.
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