The Style Struggle: RA and Comfortable Footwear

Foot pain that can come along with RA often makes finding comfy footwear a real problem. High heels can feel like a menace, sandals often provide too little support, and painful bunions can develop, causing even more stress. We have published articles detailing the frustrations many of our community members go through on a daily basis with their shoe selections, and have recently received an outpouring of comments and stories from everyone on this often tricky subject. Here are a few of your thoughts!

The Shoe Struggle

Good Shoes Are Hard to Find

  • “Still searching for the perfect shoe!”
  • “It’s hard to find good shoes.”
  • “I would just like to find comfortable work shoes.”
  • “Oh I SO relate to this!!! It’s a living hell wearing shoes, let alone finding different types for different occasions. I dread people asking me to go out as I have nothing good to put on my feet.”
  • “One of the toughest parts of RA. I can try on a pair of shoes in the store, but I won’t know if they will actually work until about day 3. That’s when my ankles let me know that the shoe is a dud.”

And Cute Good Shoes Are Nearly Impossible

  • “Cute and comfortable? What is that? I have to go with whatever my feet choose. I’ll try on hundreds of shoes to find the one pair that doesn’t make me swear when I shove my foot in. Those are keepers.”
  • “I gave up on cute shoes several years ago…”
  • “I so miss cute, sexy shoes.”
  • “I look in my wardrobe at high heels from more carefree days and they look like torture devices. Time to take them out to the bin I think!”
  • “I work at a corporate center and need to dress the part. I take advantage of good days and wear heels whenever I can. On bad days I wear flats, but they come off as soon as I get to my desk where a pair of comfy slippers awaits.”
  • “If I wear a pair of flat ballet slipper dress shoes, I end up with agonizing cramps in my instep and in my toes.”
  • “My feet are terrible! Style is not an option for me anymore.”
  • “Oh how I miss cute shoes, especially the ones with heels.”
  • “I miss cute flip flops on feet that weren’t puffy.”

Shoes You Like
While having both comfort and aesthetics may be a a distant dream, there are a few shoes that you in the community have identified as decent – Crocs, Sketchers, Clarks to name a few. And thought the plight is admirable, many of you have said to heck with style, comfort trumps all!

In Comparison, These Are Actually Pretty Cute

  • “I wish I could live in Nike sneakers, but for dress shoes, Clarks are hands down my favorite. They are actually comfortable for a dress shoe.”
  • “I love Vionic! I can’t always wear the closed toed styles when my feet swell up. They really are a life saver.”
  • “I settled with Abeo’s Bio System sandals for now. Check out their inserts, too. There’s quite a science to it. Wear it with a winsome attitude, anything will look just fine!”
  • “Sketchers Go Walk have been a life saver for me, and though they certainly aren’t what anyone would consider dressy, they are coming out in more colors and styles.”
  • “I have had more luck with Sketchers than anything else.”

They Don’t Look That Great, But They’re Sure Comfortable!

  • “I have been wearing Crocs exclusively…I have no more foot pain and my bunions have gone away. People make fun of them, but I refuse to sacrifice comfort for vanity.”
  • “After having tried all the brands on the market, I can only wear MBT. It’s been very hard for me to accept that I have to wear these not-so-pretty-chunky shoes for the rest of my life, but I do not have a choice. I am grateful that I can still walk on my own.”
  • “Winter is costly cause the only boots wide enough and that fit are UGGs.”
  • “I only wear SAS (San Antonio Shoes). They are SOOOOOO comfortable.”
  • “I started wearing Chacos a few months ago. They are fully adjustable and have amazing support. It took a few days to get used to the extreme arch support, but now I love them.”
  • “My cowboy boots are the most comfortable thing I have to wear… they look a little funny when I wear shorts, ah but who cares!”
  • “Being a fella, I’ve lived in boots for donkey’s years, but with the onset of RA I found that the only footwear I was comfortable in were slip-ons from Merrell.”

Everyone is different, as are their experiences and what works for them. If you have any other comments or suggestions that work for you that aren’t include here, or if we hit the nail on the head for you, feel free to let us know!

Comments

View Comments (13)
  • tanyae
    10 months ago

    I have found Keen’s are super comfy. The toe is really wide and I went up an extra size. They are slip on but even with the extra size they don’t slip on my heel and my toes NEVER reach the end of the shoe so it saves all the pressure and rubbing that most shoes cause me. Now to find some summer shoes that are cool (temperature… not style!) and give me the same comfort.

  • BeckyKay
    1 year ago

    I have found Monroe shoes that fit and feel good. They have a large range of sizes plus about 5 widths. Soft soles plus a steel shank for support. Super services!

    Also New Balance athletic shoes work if I put their orthotic insoles with them. Also available in a wide range of sizes and widths.

    I wear size 10N so it’s hard to find shoes.

  • mcadwell
    1 year ago

    I miss being able to go barefoot (my favorite) – all it took was stubbing my toe ONCE and that stopped that.

    I learned a long time ago, if I find a pair of shoes I like, get 2 pair right now…unless they’re on sale, then get 3 pair. That way I won’t have to hunt for shoes for awhile.

    And, after trying who knows how many shoe inserts, I finally found a pair online that are made from terry cloth, help keep my feet from sweating, are washable, AND affordable.

  • mcadwell
    1 year ago

    Oh, I forgot to say, I haven’t been able to wear heels or cute shoes in so long that wearing “ugly”, yet comfy shoes no longer bothers me. Comfort will win each and every time.

  • GingerS
    2 years ago

    I have a wonderful foot Dr. Some of the advice he has given me is : Never go barefoot!! Even on short trips. Exercise your foot and ankles. He gave me specific instructions for the exercise. Also he sent me to a specialty shoe store. At which I was able to get “comfortable” shoes. They measured my feet. Then brought out pairs of shoes for me to try on. I definately am going back for my next pair of shoes.
    Also, recently I was at my PT Dr when she recommended a change in diet. To low carbs no sugar. At three days on this diet. My foot pain was decreased by 50%. It feels so good to put pressure on my right foot and not feel like I’m being stabbed by a knife. Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing GingerS! So glad to hear that you’ve found some relief in your comfy shoes!! Wonderful! Also, so glad that the change in your diet is helping you feel better. We appreciate you being part of our community! Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • melody123
    2 years ago

    I keep trying. I tried these comfortable flats made of vinyl but made a mistake as they were not supportive enough and I tripped, twisted my ankle and fell on my face on the sidewalk. Have a huge black eye. Oh dear. Back to my asiacs tennis shoes

  • Erin Rush moderator
    2 years ago

    Ouch, melody123! I am sorry you had that experience! I hope you recovered well from your fall and are feeling comfortable (and stable) in your asiacs! Thanks for sharing with us! Best, Erin, RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member.

  • malmooge
    2 years ago

    This article is great! If there are those out there with small/odd sized feet. I’ve had success with Naot brand for “work appropriate” shoes. They carried the wide *4.5* in Women’s that I needed. (I could only afford one pair)

    The other thing that has helped my feet and possibly stave off foot surgery a few more years… is Correct Toes- toe spacers. Over time, I’ve trained my feet to wear them almost 24/7 and they help with my balance and pain. They only fit in shoes that are wide enough anyway!

    Also…crocs are my “go-to” for casual footwear. (Thought I would whisper this phrase in my 70s…but no… it’s my 30s)

  • Sampia
    2 years ago

    My favorite brand is Ahnu. I have 4 pair and want to buy more. I tried on a pair of all weather hiking boot ( all I do is walk my dog at the nature park LOL, but a girl can dream) and I literally gasped because it was so comfortable. My son even bought a pair to wear around college. Of all my Ahnu shoes, it is still the most comfortable and I even wear the lightweight boots shopping. Stylish and comfortable. Not cheap, but well made

  • tulugaq
    2 years ago

    Aetrex Berries are wonderful – but very expensive. I live in mine and am constantly watching for sales.

  • Catnip@36
    2 years ago

    Inused to weat Birkenstocks with the soft footbed. They are harder to find so I tried Allegria- they make nurses shoes and they have some cute funky styles. They have a removeable foodbed but the footbed is wonderful.

  • jillianglick
    2 years ago

    Aerosols and fitflops ( they have cute boots and shoes) are great and don’t look awful!

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