If the shoe fits
I recently had a discussion with my rheumatologist about footwear and RA. For most of us with RA, foot pain and general discomfort are part and parcel of the RA journey. That said, it is crucial that we carefully consider our options for footwear. His primary concern is that the shoe fit well, does not constrict or create an environment for joint damage. My primary concern, to be honest, is that they feel good, fit well and can be worn for a long period of time without causing issues with my feet.
I have found that what works for one of us does not necessarily work for all of us. For instance, I cannot wear any type of shoe that you “slide” into since my foot surgery because my big toe joints are fused and I have no flexion in them thus I have no “gripping” ability. On the other hand I have many, many (some would say too many) flip flops and they work great because the divider sits between the toes. Now many people find that irritating or uncomfortable but not me! I should add that I do not wear traditional inexpensive, cheaply made flip flops. Rather I wear sandals with a flip flop style but that have support and cup my foot to ensure a solid and secure fit. Again, to each his/her own.
Solid, secure and comfortable are my battle cries for shoes. My rheumatologist wisely pointed out that shoes have come a long, long way over the last decade to 20 years, making our options today sooo much better! There are many places you can check to see what works for people. You can even google “shoes for arthritic feet” and you will get dozens of links!
One pitfall I will mention that I fell into was buying the shoe after just briefly trying it on and thinking I was good to go. Often when I had to wear it all day later on, it was a disaster! So now, I try it on and walk around in it for 5-10 minutes which is usually long enough to get the full sense of whether it will work long term. If I order online (which I almost always do these days) I wear them around the house for an hour or two and again that gives me the necessary input I need to decide if they are a go or not.
A suggestion I have is when you find that “perfect” shoe, buy more than one! I have most of my favorites in lots of colors because I know they work. Plus, it means your foot only has to adjust to a few styles which really does wonders for ensuring comfort.
Now dress shoes are a whole different and challenging category. I, personally, hate any type of high heel so I avoid them at all costs, opting instead for a dressy flat or slight heel. I just cannot justify enduring pain and discomfort for any shoe. However, I know some folks would not agree, in which case you really need to choose carefully. You do not want to put your foot in a shoe that will not only generate pain in your foot, but could cause balance or tripping issues. So, again, try them on and see what works for you.
When it is all said and done, if the shoe fits you should be ready to go!
Has having RA put a hold on your ambitions?