My Experience in Dealing with Shoes and RA-Related Foot Issues

I had been living with RA-related foot pain since I was diagnosed in 2004. Unfortunately, my foot pain symptoms were not taken as seriously as I would have liked them to.

It wasn’t until I changed rheumatologists back in December of 2018 that my foot health began to move in a positive direction.

A referral for a podiatrist

My new rheumatologist referred me to a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in diseases of and affecting the foot. My foot doctor really helped me understand ways to improve my foot health and make changes to help decrease the amount of pain I was feeling in my feet.

The podiatrist wrote me a prescription for custom foot orthotics and sent me to a specialty shoe shop.

What is a pedorthist?

I walked into the specialty shoe shop in 2019, and I saw a sign that had a quote from the movie Cinderella: “The right shoes can change your life.” I can tell you, from first-hand experience, that there is so much truth in that statement. 

How can a pedorthist help me?

At the shop, I worked with a pedorthist. A pedorthist is a professional who has specialized training to modify footwear and to provide supportive devices to address conditions that affect the feet or legs. A pedorthist can help you meet your foot-related goals such as:

  • Pain relief. Pedorthist recommends shoes and a foot orthotic that helps with shock absorption. The proper shock absorption in your shoe is key. It helps to limit the impact your feet, knees, hips, and ankles feel when putting pressure on your feet.
  • Shoe recommendations that accommodate your particular unique foot shape
  • Increasing the support and stability of your feet
  • Help to control the motion that your feet experience
  • Decreasing further joint erosion in the feet

Mistakes with shoe buying and foot care

I have learned so much in regards to the many very important mistakes I was making with shoes in general. I hope that this list is helpful. I really wish I had this information in 2004 when I was newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Not wearing foot orthotics (specialized supports for feet) in my shoes.
  • Wearing one pair of shoes all the time. When you wear one pair of shoes, it begins to wear the shoe more rapidly and can lead to increased foot pain and decreased support.
  • Wearing the wrong size. I walked into the specialty shoe store and thought I was an 11; turns out, I am a size 12. The RA contributed to my arches falling which was why my foot was now bigger.
  • Shopping for shoes when my foot was not swollen.
  • Shopping for shoes that did not have removable soles. If you wear orthotics, you want to be able to remove the original soles and fit your foot orthotic in your shoes.
  • Buying shoes that were pointy or too big for my foot. I learned that with RA, it is important to shop for shoes with a roomy toe box. (I now purchase shoes with more of a square-shaped toe. This allows for more room for your toes and decreases the amount of pressure you are putting on the small joints of your feet).
  • Not having my foot measured each time I purchased a new pair of shoes.

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