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If you had foot and balance issues, when did you decide to use a wheelchair?

Ankles and foot swelling? Swollen, swollen, distorted feet. Having trouble balancing and walking. Great deal of pain. When do you decide to go to a wheelchair?

  1. Northlake,
    Great question! I'm so sorry you are living with this. This is something many of us have dealt with. If you search balance on the website, you will see several articles.
    Deciding on a wheelchair is very individual. Breaking the question down into smaller questions helps.
    1) Are you able to manage around your own home without falling?
    2) Do you require an assistive device in your own home, or just when you go out?
    3) Have you discussed this with your rheumatologist? He/she may want to do testing and you may need a medication change.
    4) Are you wearing supportive footwear? I can no longer go barefoot, even at home.
    5) Has your vision or hearing changed? Both can affect balance.
    6) Do you have the ability to load a wheelchair into your car?
    7) Will you require an electric wheelchair?

    Most of all, consider your life now. Make a pro and con list. See which side wins. Before you see your rheumatologist, make a list. Frame your issues in light of how it impacts your life. For example: my pain is so bad, I can only get to the bathroom and back, my balance is so bad that I'm afraid to leave the house.

    This is a hard decision and requires some research. I hope this was helpful. Please come back anytime, you are understood here.

    Mary Sophia, moderator/author

    1. Thank you. Super good points to consider. I have fallen four times requiring one shoulder surgery. My feet and ankles are so swollen and distorted that I can hardly get them into shoes. My husband is my rock! I very much appreciate all the help from within the group. I get so tired of the Pain and my body slipping away that it's nice to hear from others. Thanks

    2. Hi northlake, due to my severe juvenile onset for RA I started using a chair part-time at age 10. I'm now 43 and use it mostly full-time, but can walk short distances with difficulty. My joint damage is very severe, so I tire easily and have trouble balancing. When I got my first motorized wheelchair as a teenager my family and I said: "we should have done this sooner!" The reason was because I was able to get around better, do more, save energy, and have more quality of life. Its important to walk and stay as strong as possible, but it's also important to balance that with energy/fatigue and quality of life. Hope these thoughts help! Best, Kelly (

  2. Hi northlake. On top of the excellent information from Mary Sophia, I want to offer you some information from my wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), who has used a wheelchair since her late teens. She wrote about the difficult decision to use a wheelchair and the difference it has made in her life here: Of course the decision is truly a personal one, dependent on individual circumstances. For additional information you may want to peruse other articles Kelly has written, many of which touch on life with a wheelchair (if you click on her name at the top of the provided article it will take you to all of her articles) or search on wheelchair in our archive, using the search engine at top left. Please don't hesitate to ask follow-up questions. Wishing you the best. Richard ( Team)

    1. Good points Richard. Thanks

  3. Northlake

    I have serious balance and foot issues, but i have not as yet needed to opt for a wheel chair. I do use a cane and i often use PT as a was to strengthen my core and work on balance.

    I have been working on balance for over 15 years. i have worked in the pool with a PT, and while standing, sitting and walking. I can say that despite this work I have not overcome the balance issue.

    I wanted to say this to let you know you are not alone, and I am positive what ever decision you make will no doubt be the right one for you. Know you cannot do the wrong thing here.

    I wish you the very best in life and balance.

    rick - moderator

    1. If you feel safer and better in a wheel chair, I’d say try it for a while. It’s a personal choice for sure.

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