What’s Your Advice for Shoes for Rheumatoid Arthritis Feet?

Shoes for feet that are old overnight thanks to Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Black Born clogsFor years, my feet were a big part of my Palindromic Rheumatism or (palindromic Rheumatoid Arthritis). I’d wake up some mornings and it would feel like I’d walked on those feet all day. It was always like I was finishing a marathon that had never started.

The Rheumatoid Arthritis became full-blown feet first. The joints at the base of my toes swelled so that the toes themselves pointed in odd directions. Overnight, there were bunion-looking deformities on all four of the outside toes. The older ladies at church said, “Well, welcome to the club.”

The quest for Rheumatoid Arthritis shoes

Black Naturalizer shoesAs I described in my onset story, the first day it was only one foot, so I limped. When the other foot joined in, I crawled. It didn’t matter if no shoes fit – I could not walk. There was something like rocks inside of my skin at the base of each toe.

Nothing relieved the pain, but the podiatrist made splints to try to straighten the toes and prescribed a certain shoe. Eventually, I drove the hour to the city to pick up the shoes. I went into the store in some worn out running shoes with the laces removed, over top of the splints.

At the shoe store, I gave the boy the doctor’s recommendation. I tried to put on several shoes, but it was too painful to stand. He looked at me as if I had four heads on my shoulders instead of four kids wandering around his store – and a baby in a stroller. I left empty-handed, tearful, practically crawling to the car.

A couple of weeks later, the feet weren’t as swollen, so I bought the shoes the doctor requested – only in a men’s size so that it would be roomier and touch my foot less. I’ve decided that the best shoe for me now that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis feet is whatever shoe is not touching my feet.

What kind of shoes work for Rheumatoid Arthritis feet?

ShoeboxesI got lots of shoe advice and questions when I had to buy shoes this fall (pictured) so that I could dress like an adult and get on an airplane. Usually, I work at home in Florida. So, I don’t even have to wear socks. And I have these very stretched out super-cushy Bare Traps for ball games and the rare grocery story trips. But I keep trying to replace those since they’re loose enough now that they cause me to fall.

There is not huge foot swelling nowadays because of the treatments I take for RA. But my feet continue to change and they always hurt. Finding shoes has become the proverbial search for the Holy Grail.

Photos: Stacks of shoe boxes in the closet have shrunk, but I keep many, hoping eventually a treatment that works for me will let me wear them again. Pictured are the shoes I managed to put on for the ACR trip.

My best Rheumatoid Arthritis shoe advice is to alternate shoes each day.

What is your best Rheumatoid Arthritis shoe advice? And your favorite RA shoes?

Recommended reading:

Kelly Young

Kelly Young is an advocate providing ways for patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. Through her writing, speaking, and use of social media, she is building a more accurate awareness of Rheumatoid disease aka Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creating ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and bringing recognition and visibility to the Rheumatoid patient journey. In 2009, Kelly created Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, a comprehensive website about RA of about 950 pages and writes periodically for other newsletters and websites. Kelly served on the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board. There are over 42,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook Fan page. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is the mother of five, a home-schooler, Bible teacher, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She has lived over nine years with unrelenting Rheumatoid disease. See also http://www.rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

191 thoughts on “What’s Your Advice for Shoes for Rheumatoid Arthritis Feet?

  • April 19, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    The shoes shown here are the ones I could wear 20 years ago. Now that my toes have curled under, I can only wear shoes with soft fabric/suede uppers. They are hard to find, because I have to wear extra wide shoes because of other damaged to my feet.

  • April 19, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    My feet have been a major issue too. I found ahnu shoes to be wonderful. I have been wearing the Chrissy shoes for 4 years. I’m trying kuru next. The sole in the ahnu shoe put less pressure on the metatarsal area although it is snug at the toes. With the metatarsal relief, was ok.

  • September 4, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I have had JRA for 40 years. I like Naot and Asics. Some people might be interested in knowing that if you have a health spending account and a doctor willing to indicate that you get relief from wearing Dansko or other expensive brand, you could get reimbursed for the extra cost of the shoes. I used to buy Danskos and print out an ad for 20$ “regular shoes” dollar shoes and get back whatever I paid minus the 20$.

  • December 2, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    These are the kind I wear. Got the same kind at kmart and put insoles in them and they’re as perfect as shoes can get for me. they touch my joints/ankles, but they’re super cushioned around the sides. I couldn’t find them at kmart, but I found the exact same style at Big 5. I like them also because they are wide, with plenty of room. http://www.big5sportinggoods.com/store/details/harsh+Stone-Mens-Skate-Shoes/5345132930055/_/A-4872974#.WiNTdUpKuUk

  • February 2, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    I wear a lot of New Balance (great wide and extra wide selection) shoes due to the RA and Neuropathy. I don’t wear a lot of dress shoes.

  • February 6, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Crocs and Birkenstocks (sandals and clogs). Luckily I live in Mississippi and can wear clogs to my job.

  • February 9, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Hi, no RA dx, but something is wrong and I have been searching for shoe options for years. I need a lot of toe room and cant bear any foot compression. I have found luck with Allbirds (wool upper is soft and accommodating, fairly wide toe box) and especially Fitflop styled like the Novy sandal (no toe thong). Thanks for the suggestions here, and best to all.

  • March 14, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    After having RA since 1984 shoes have always been a bit hit and miss. After bilateral forefoot arthroplasty, I now find that Crocs are my go to shoe but I am now wearing the most outrageous Dr Marten boots with orthotics and I use the excuse now……. if the shoe fits buy them.

  • August 13, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    I am 63 years old. RA began 7 years ago. I was also wondering how do I do the big things when I am not capable of little things?

    We need to Finish repairs in our home, sell it because we can’t afford to maintain it, or afford the constantly increasing real estate taxes. What I received in discount due to being handicapped has already been increased in the tax base within two short years. and I am at the point where I Know I need to stop babysitting. My body cannot do this anymore. I want to stop but then how do we live? We have to sell, but how do we get all this done?

    How do I get my big old house ready for a sale? Buy something smaller and easier to maintain? My husband acts like I have forever, but my feet are destroyed, it’s difficult to walk on them, and now it Is spreading to my hands. Why does he minimize the inevitable. I can’t clean my house anymore, he does everything which is wonderful, but what about me? I have lost myuch function. I,m not as brave as most of the comments I read on the website.

    I can’t play the piano anymore. I can’t play the music I loved. Little by little I lose a piece of my life. And nobody gets it.

    I am discouraged. I noticed there aren’t any support groups for people with RA/RD and yet don’t we all need someone to talk to? A human face, or someone that understands? Someone with a face instead of a computer screen.

    Life is getting difficult. If RA was a color, and our feelings inside could bleed, people would be horrified.

    We are hidden on a website, just like our disease.

    : (


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