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The Curse of the Flat Footed Floogie

The Curse of the Flat Footed Floogie

Here are a few facts about me: I am 28 years old, I live on the East Coast, I am ethnically Indian and I have flat feet. Many Indians have the curse of the Flat-Footed Floogie where our arches are non-existent and the soles of our feet completely hug the floor. I was only recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2010 but my lovely feet were a problem long before that.

Flat Feet and RA

I still have nightmares from track in elementary school. I high-tailed it out of the mandatory sport as soon as I reached freshman year of high school (faster than I had ever run, mind you!) I remember taking Indian dancing lessons (the dancers are barefoot) and wanting to cry because my feet hurt so badly. I wore very specific trainers because a long stint in sports class meant my feet twinged by the end of it.

Without proper arches, my poor little feet couldn’t support my body and I struggled a lot with them. I was pre-disposed to foot pain so imagine what happened when my Rheumatoid Disease came on. The pain magnified, by a lot.

In general, I did not get a whole lot of swelling in my joints but I noticed a minimal amount in my toes and ankles by the end of the day.

Finding the right shoes

At the beginning I just wanted to keep my feet off the floor, all the time. Of course, that couldn’t fly since I was a vet tech and stood most of the day. I tried innumerable sneakers hoping for the magic pair that took the pain away. No such luck. I came home every afternoon in agony and no hope of continuing my day.

I soon gave up my favorite high tops as their platform was completely flat and unhelpful. I even said goodbye to some of my sandals (though, I still sneak them into rotation during the summer).

I managed the discomfort with warm baths, medication and a husk pillow. They helped but not enough. I needed an extreme overhaul (whether by getting arthritis-specific shoes or orthotics).

To the dismay of my piggies, I still go style over comfort. I wear very basic clothes (ie. A tee and jeans) and spice up the outfit with accessories. I am especially known for my taste in shoes! Needless to say, RA appropriate footwear is not usually very stylish so I shy away from them. I know I should wear them but I just can’t bring myself to buy them yet (did I mention I’m in my 20s?). Here’s where it gets a bit tricky for me. I can’t walk around barefoot anymore. It’s quite uncomfortable which is not only an issue in the shower but also in the climbing gym. I thankfully don’t have an issue with my climbing shoes because they do have pretty good arch support!

Given my newest symptom, I was on the verge of giving up summer sandals for good when I happened upon a brand who used yoga mats for the sole of their shoes. On a whim I purchased a pair and WOW. They minimized my foot pain to almost zero and looked quite cute doing it! I purchased a couple more pairs so I had a healthy rotation for the summer months.

My feet are now in need of something to support them and minize the pain. What’s next in my saga of the Flat-Footed Floogie? Will one of my toes fall off? Yes, that’s probably an exaggeration but actually, will it?

Do you have foot pain? How do you subdue it? What kinds of shoes do you wear?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • rockcandi
    12 months ago

    I have what would be considered the opposite issue, extremely high arches. Since I’ve had JRA since I was such a young child Idk if the problems I have with my feet, ankles & calves comes from the JRA or my arches. I think it’s both. The weakness I have in my ankles combined with such high arches has made my ankles turn in towards the ground since I was a small child. I think the result is imbalance at least up to my hips. My pain from RA is compounded by the pain that imbalance causes. I’m pretty short so in my teens and early to mid 20s my fave type of footwear was wedges. I was always better able to keep my balance in wedges than heels. When I was about 27 I was told I needed to wear tennis shoes/sneakers only, no flip flops either which was my other go-to. It wasn’t until I had a horrible flare at age 30/31 that I relented and only wore tennis shoes. Since then I mostly wear tennis shoes with arch supports but at times I’ll wear dress flats that are pretty comfy and occasionally flip flops with a little arch support. Only on extremely good days do I pull out the pair of wedges I’d bought just before the flare. They’re still stylish but so uncomfortable and I hurt for days afterwards. I don’t think I’ve worn them since before my son was born so I was about 32/33. It bothers me to not wear them, but even wearing good tennis shoes with arch support I still have severe pain so it’s just not worth it.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    12 months ago

    I totally get that, rockcandi! It’s really interesting how fine a line there is with feet and this disease. Why are the feet such problems?? Because we’re trying to hold our entire weight on basically tiny pegs?? Sorry, I’m just very annoyed with my feet right now, if you couldn’t tell!

    Are your arch supports orthotics or something else? I’m glad you sometimes get to wear wedges but I agree most times I want to sneak in a “pre-RA” pair I think forward and wonder what the next few days might bring.

    I’ve had a lot of friends with high arches, no RA and they also suffer from foot pain! There’s no winning with feet, is there?

    Thanks for commenting, rockcandi!! You know how much I appreciate it! 🙂

  • rockcandi
    12 months ago

    I haven’t actually gone to an orthotic (orthopedic?) doctor. I didn’t back when I was first told that I needed to bc I didn’t have insurance. Idk why I haven’t in the 3 plus years since I’ve had insurance. Going to add that to the list bc my mom has one of those docs and the inserts he has made for her every six months have helped her a lot. Her whole job entails walking around a big chain superstore catching shoplifters so her feet are extremely important! Although she doesn’t have RA, she does have Fibromyalgia and Plantar Fasciitis due to extremely high arches. Anyway, I’m glad you asked that bc it finally occurred to me to go.

  • hansentania
    12 months ago

    Monica,

    I have really ugly pain when I’m in a flare, but even without, my flat feet are just killer when I’ve been on my feet. Before I was diagnosed with RA, I was a labor and delivery nurse. when I came home after a 12 hour shift or longer on concrete, tile and minimal carpeting, I always said my feet like bloody stubs.

    As I get older, I find my feet are just begging for orthotics or support. I went to the Walking store and found cute Tennis shoes and put their orthotics in them. I find I can put them into other shoes and they are better. One thing I found out was I not only needed arch support, but I also needed metatarsal support to keep my feet from sliding forward. This made a huge difference!

    My feet are too sensitive to use rollers when I’m in the middle of a flare. I found soaking in a bath with Epsom salts in it really helped. I wish I had found these tips years ago, before my RA diagnosis. I probably could have avoided a lot of abuse to my poor feet.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hey hasentania! I Since I was a vet tech I definitely understand the pain pre-RA as well!

    I need to invest in orthotics. I think a lot of my pain might (hopefully) go away. I will ask about other supports as well because I never thought of metatarsal ones.

    Thank you so much for commenting on my article!! All the best!

  • Mabeljane
    12 months ago

    Hi Monica
    I read with great eagerness!!! Your foot/feet problems sound similar to mine. I was diagnosed with RA in 2009 and try as I might I couldn’t seem to get my consultant to understand that my feet were the main problem (I’m from UK). We don’t seem to have access here to as many choices in footwear so I struggle loads!! I’m much older than you but I refuse to wear the orthotics that are available. I’m sure you mustn’t advertise but wondered if there way a way you could give me the name of the sandals with the yoga mat sole? I love my Birkenstocks but they kill my feet now. Thank you

  • Jerry
    12 months ago

    Good day!! I have flat feet also and have tried the very expensive orthotics from the Ortho Dr. After a day at work climbing ladders or standing on concrete my feet hurt so bad. My beautiful Wife suggested I try Dr. Scholl’s arch supports from Walgreens ($19.99). What a difference!! I also have RA so I understand the effect it has on our feet, the bones in my feet are drifting and they hurt like heck. I to hate shoes and I only wear them when I have to (I can’t imagine going to Church barefoot, lol) so as soon as I get home off come the shoes. I’ve found that a tennis ball or a frozen bottle of water rolled under my feet help as does my ‘foot fixer’. Good luck and you’re in my prayers with your daily struggle with RA. You are not alone.

  • CynthiaV
    12 months ago

    Hi Monica. I have the exact opposite problem as you. I have extremely high arches, so high that when barefoot my footprint shows a ball and heel with only a thin strip in between.

    Whereas you most likely in addition to suffering from foot pain experience pronation, whereby your ankles turn inward causing your knees to turn inward as well as putting additional stress on your hip flexors. I on the other hand suffer from supination whereas my feet and knees lean outward causing it’s own set of problems.

    Both cause walking issues and mechanical problems which unaided lead to long term structural damage. Add in RA with joint and tissue damage and we have a real mess indeed.

    I don’t blame you for wishing to wear stylish shoes and sandals. I’m much older than you and I refuse to give up or stop buying pretty shoes, sandals and boots. I’m a shoe-aholic! Just ask my husband.

    But I find I’m no longer able to wear four inch heels but wedgies and platforms with a padded arched bed where my foot sits a bit higher in the heel and dips gently to my toes is most comfortable and gives me the height and style I crave.

    So I compromise, when I’m at home I wear less stylish, more comfortable ortho style footwear. When going out and I know I’ll be standing or walking for long periods I wear wedgies or platforms that are stylish yet still comfortable and can accommodate the inflammation
    and swelling that comes with the additional wear and tear on my feet. And when going out when I know there will be limited walking or standing and no dancing, if I can get my feet into my fanciest shoes I wear them but I always carry a pair of Kruzers. Kruzers are a stylish sneaker type flat that are foldable and can be easily stored in a purse or backpack. They look like a ballet flat and come in many colors including black, gold and silver. They are inexpensive, only around $30 (less if you find them on Zulily) but you may want to get a pair of orthotic inserts to pop inside them bc of your issues with your flat feet.

    I found a website that offers some info and cautions on flat feet,

    https://www.ipfh.org/foot-conditions/foot-conditions-a-z/flat-feet/prevention-and-treatment-of-flat-feet/

    Some aids I’ve purchased to help with my foot pain and swelling include a foot rocker to stretch my arch and calves, soft rubber massage balls both smooth and spikey, foot compression sleeves that cover from the ball thru the arch and heel up to my ankles, Tommy Copper or similar arch wraps and hot/cold foot wraps.

    I hope you find relief soon for both your flat feet and your RA. The combination goes far beyond common foot pain from wearing the wrong shoes. It is something only other RA warriors can understand. Be well and best wishes.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    12 months ago

    Thank so much for all the suggestions and for the kind words!! I really do appreciate it! 🙂

    Handbags and scarves are my favorite things to collect…And, apparently, my mother’s too (I recently found a hidden stash of her old scarves) and they were very typical of the decades so I’m having a field day wearing them!

    (Sorry random tangent).

    I do the same thing, when I find a good pair of shoes I buy them in many colors! I’m lucky I can wear sneakers for work (I teach after school programs and I am a vet tech) and I generally lean towards athleisure clothing anyways. There is an Easy Spirit outlet in my mall so I will definitely check it out! (Also the Kruzers).

    I need to invest in orthotics. I am sure I could wear some of my old favorites again with a little help!

    Thank you again, Cynthia!! Please reach out if you ever need to talk, as well!

  • CynthiaV
    12 months ago

    Hi Monica. Thanks for your kind reply. What fun! A secret stash of retro scarves. I inherited my mom’s too and wear them occasionaly. When I do I never fail to recall her and her own love of scarves. Have fun wearing your mom’s.

    How fortunate you are to be able to wear sneakers. Your positions have you spending long periods of time on your feet so it might benefit you to begin using a foot roller. I have both a wooden and plastic one. When your feet tire and you have a break just remove your shoes and roll, roll, roll.

    Rollers help massage sore spots especially in your arch area but also work on the principal of reflexology. On-line health and ortho stores and Amazon carry dozens of different kinds. They are fairly inexpensive and another tool in my arsenal. They can also be manually rolled over other tight or painful areas like thighs, calves, etc.

    I preach to you about orthotics when I myself are long overdue for a new pair! Sounds like we share a need to check that one off our to-do lists.

    Thank you for your sense of humor that comes through in your writings and puts a smile on my face. Thank you as well for your mutual support. Very often, speaking with another person who understands by personal experience the seen and unseen hardships of this disease is the only way to help calm our fears and worries or just be there to commiserate. So I thank you again and offer you the same recourse. Reach out to me anytime you feel the need.

    Take good care of yourself.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    12 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing all this information CynthiaV, including going above and beyond with the research. It is always great to see how members of the community try to help each other. Best to you. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • CynthiaV
    12 months ago

    Thank you Richard. I am a retired counselor by profession so helping others come naturally. But beyond that, I have been living quite a while with RA. I have been helped by countless other RA warriors that extended a helping hand to me when I needed it most so I’m really just paying it forward. Nevertheless, I thank you for your kind words. Be well…

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hey CynthiaV!! Thank you so much for sharing! I found your comment interesting and informative. It really is amazing how one disease can affect everyone so differently. Though, I guess we are all unique to begin with!

    You’re not the first person to suggest wedges to me. I have very small ankles and used to find them too heavy for me. I always wanted to wear them so I guess now I actually have an excuse to try them again!

    I will definitely look in to the Kruzers. I feel like I’ve heard of them before but it’s quite possible it’s a new to me brand.

    Thank you again for commenting on my article!! I really do appreciate it!! ~Monica (RheumatoidArthritis.net Moderator)

  • CynthiaV
    12 months ago

    You are welcome Monica. I very much enjoyed your article. I’m glad my insights on shoes, one of my favorite accessories next to scarves and handbags, were helpful to you.

    Definitely check into the Kruzers. I have several pairs. They are a godsend when my feet are screaming for relief. If I forget them we have to turn back to retrieve them bc the fear of the inevitable pain will ruin my whole day. Before Kruzers the pain in my feet after a long event had me crying like a baby. I’m sure you know the feeling.

    Another thing that has helped me is changing the height of the shoe I’m wearing throughout the day. Say you wear a higher heel into work. At the first sign of discomfort switch to a low heel or a flat with an orthotic. Then if that becomes uncomfortable after a time switch to a wedgie or midsize heel. Do it as often as you need to, even incorporating sneaker like shoes if you are able. I found the change in height really helped. I could almost hear my feet saying, “ahhhh!”

    I always kept different shoes in my desk drawer for this very reason. Plus it helped explain to my husband why I owned six different black, navy blue and brown shoes…lol. But seriously, it did help.

    I have weak ankles and swiss cheese achilles tendons so I know exactly what you mean about wedgies feeling heavy. I was just having a conversation with my husband tonight as to the times when my legs and feet feel so heavy I drag my feet even wearing the lightest of shoes. Not so great since it can cause a fall. So definitely look for lightweight wedgies maybe canvas or cork. I know Easy Spirit has very stylish leather wedges with low heels.

    I wish you all the best Monica and hope to read more of your articles in the future. I pray you soon find what works for you. I believe you will. It just time and a willingness to experiment. Be well and gentle hugs…

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    12 months ago

    Oh I cannot explain the shoes I wear. Sheryl calls them white clod hopper sneakers. They are diabetes shoes and they are amazing, but wow they look like an old man picked them out.

    Wait, what?

    Well if the shoe fits you have to wear it.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hah, that last sentance is so true. We have very few options to choose from, don’t we??

    I’m glad you found something that works for you, Rick!! Thanks for commenting!

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