Shoes For Arthritis - A Guide

Stephen O'Hare, President of Pedors Shoes

By Stephen O'Hare, President and Co-Founder, Pedors Shoes

For over 25 years Pedors Shoes has designed and manufactured shoes for problem feet. Our goal is to get our customers back on their feet again with affordable, quality footwear that addresses their specific needs. We’re here to help. Your footwear problems are our challenges.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. Although joint inflammation is a symptom rather than a specific diagnosis, the term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints, typically causing pain, redness, and inflammation.

Symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis often include tenderness when you touch the affected joint and pain when you move it.  It  can also cause swelling and varying degrees of discomfort when walking, or putting weight on it.

There are different types of arthritis, with the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Risk Factors for Arthritis


Some types of arthritis are hereditary, so you may be more prone to develop arthritis if a family member has it.


The risk increases and the symptoms worsen with age.


Women develop rheumatoid arthritis more than men,  while men tend to develop gout, another type of arthritis, more than women.

Previous Joint Injury

People who have injured a joint are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.


Excess pounds puts stress on joints, especially on knees, hips and spine, and thus tend to have an increased risk of developing arthritis.

Why Exercise Is Very Important For People With Arthritis

Exercise is important for people with arthritis in the feet for several reasons, as it can have a positive impact on their overall foot health and help manage the condition. 

Here are some of the key benefits of exercise for individuals with arthritis in their feet:

• Pain Management

Regular exercise can help reduce pain and discomfort associated with arthritis by strengthening the muscles that support the affected joints. It can also promote the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.

• Improved Joint Function

Exercise can enhance joint mobility and flexibility, making it easier to move the affected joints. This can help individuals maintain a more active and independent lifestyle.

• Prevention of Stiffness

Inactivity can lead to joint stiffness, making arthritis symptoms worse. Regular exercise can help prevent or alleviate stiffness in their feet and other affected joints.

• Enhanced Circulation

Physical activity promotes better blood circulation, which can help deliver nutrients and oxygen to the joint tissues, potentially reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

• Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for individuals with arthritis in their feet, as excess weight can put added stress on the joints. Exercise can assist in weight management, reducing the burden on the affected joints.

• Strengthening Muscles

Strengthening the muscles around arthritic joints can help stabilize and support those joints, reducing the risk of further damage and discomfort.

• Improved Balance and Coordination

Some forms of exercise, such as balance and proprioception training, can improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

• Enhanced Bone Health

Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking and resistance training, can improve bone density, which is important for overall bone health, including the bones in the feet.

• Psychological Benefits

Regular physical activity can have a positive impact on mental health, reducing stress and promoting a sense of well-being.

• Social Engagement

Participating in group exercise classes or physical therapy sessions can provide opportunities for social interaction and support, which can be beneficial for emotional well-being.

It's essential for individuals with arthritis in their feet to choose exercises that are appropriate for their specific condition and fitness level. Low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and gentle walking are often recommended. Consultation with a healthcare professional, such as a rheumatologist, physical therapist, or orthopedic specialist, is crucial to develop a tailored exercise plan that considers the individual's specific needs and limitations. Additionally, individuals should pay attention to their bodies and avoid overexertion or exercises that exacerbate pain. Exercise should be a part of a comprehensive approach to managing arthritis in their feet, which may also include medication, orthotics, and lifestyle modifications.

What are the key differences between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis when it comes to choosing footwear?

Choosing appropriate footwear for individuals with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may involve different considerations due to the distinct characteristics of these two types of arthritis. Here are the key differences in footwear choices for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis:

Footwear for Osteoarthritis

• Cushioning and Shock Absorption

Osteoarthritis primarily involves the degeneration of joint cartilage, which can result in pain and discomfort. Footwear for osteoarthritis should provide ample cushioning and shock absorption to reduce the impact on the affected joints. Look for shoes with well-padded insoles and midsoles.

• Support and Stability

Osteoarthritis often affects weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. Footwear should offer good support and stability to distribute weight evenly. Shoes with a firm heel counter can help maintain proper alignment and reduce joint stress.

• Orthotic Compatibility

Some individuals with osteoarthritis may benefit from custom or over-the-counter orthotic insoles to address specific joint issues. Shoes with removable insoles and extra depth can accommodate these orthotics.

• Roomy Toe Box

Osteoarthritis can lead to joint deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes. Footwear with a wide and roomy toe box allows for more comfortable movement and reduces pressure on deformed toes.

• Low Heel

A low or flat heel is often recommended for individuals with osteoarthritis in the knees, as it reduces the strain on these joints and promotes better alignment.

Footwear for Rheumatoid Arthritis

• Cushioning and Support

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects the synovium (lining of the joints), leading to joint inflammation and deformities. Footwear for rheumatoid arthritis should provide both cushioning and support to minimize joint stress and discomfort.

• Orthopedic Shoes

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause severe joint deformities in the feet, making it necessary to wear orthopedic shoes or custom-made footwear. These shoes are designed to accommodate deformities and provide the necessary support and protection.

• Easy Fastening

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect hand dexterity, making it difficult to fasten laces or buckles. Shoes with Velcro straps or slip-on designs are more convenient for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

• Lightweight

Lightweight shoes are generally easier to manage and reduce the strain on joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Protective Features: Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to prominent joint swellings. Shoes with soft, non-irritating materials and seamless interiors can help prevent friction and pressure on sensitive areas.
Custom Modifications: Some individuals with severe rheumatoid arthritis may require custom modifications to their footwear, such as added depth, rocker soles, or custom orthotic insoles.

It's important for individuals with either type of arthritis to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a rheumatologist or a podiatrist, to receive personalized recommendations for appropriate footwear. The choice of footwear should align with the individual's specific needs, including the severity of their condition and the joints affected. Properly selected footwear can help improve comfort, mobility, and overall quality of life for individuals with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the key design features in shoes for people living with Arthritis?

Shoes designed for people living with arthritis should have specific features that prioritize comfort, support, and pain relief. Here are the key design features to look for in shoes for individuals with arthritis:

• Cushioning

Ample cushioning in the insole and midsole provides shock absorption, reducing the impact on joints and promoting comfort while walking.

• Arch Support

Arch support helps maintain proper foot alignment, reducing stress on the feet and joints. Some individuals with arthritis may benefit from custom orthotic insoles.

• Wide and Roomy Toe Box

A wide toe box allows toes to move freely and reduces pressure on the front of the foot, accommodating deformities and reducing the risk of blisters or corns.

• Soft and Non-Irritating Materials

Shoes made from soft, breathable, and non-irritating materials reduce friction and the risk of skin irritation or pressure sores.

• Easy Fastening

Shoes with Velcro straps or slip-on designs are easier to put on and take off, which can be particularly helpful for individuals with limited hand dexterity.

• Removable Insoles

Shoes with removable insoles allow for the use of custom orthotic insoles or cushioning pads when needed.

• Firm Heel Counter

A firm heel counter provides stability and helps prevent the foot from rolling inward or outward, reducing the risk of falls.

• Low Heel

A low or flat heel can reduce pressure on the knees and lower back, promoting better alignment and reducing joint strain.

• Lightweight Construction

Lightweight shoes reduce the effort required to lift and move the feet, making walking and daily activities more manageable.

• Slip-Resistant Outsoles

Outsoles with good traction help prevent slips and falls, which can be especially important for individuals with arthritis, as they may have reduced balance and stability.

• Customization

Some shoes can be customized with modifications like added depth, rocker soles, or custom orthotic insoles to meet specific needs.

• Seamless Interior

A seamless interior minimizes the risk of friction and irritation, which can be especially important for individuals with arthritis who have sensitive skin.

• Room for Swelling

Shoes should provide some extra room to accommodate potential foot swelling that may occur throughout the day.

• Supportive Ankle Collar

A supportive ankle collar can provide additional stability and help protect the ankle joint.

• Diabetic-Friendly Features

Some individuals with arthritis may also have diabetes. In such cases, shoes designed for diabetics may provide appropriate features, including extra depth and cushioning.

• Adjustable Fit

Shoes with multiple adjustable closure options, such as laces or straps, can help tailor the fit to individual needs.

• Podiatrist Approval

It's advisable to seek guidance from a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist when choosing footwear for arthritis. They can provide recommendations based on an individual's specific foot condition and type of arthritis.

It's important to choose shoes that align with the type and location of arthritis and to prioritize comfort and pain relief. Keep in mind that the most suitable shoes may vary from person to person, so consulting with a healthcare professional can help ensure that you select the best footwear for your specific needs.

Who are the medical professionals that specialize in arthrtis foot care?

Several medical professionals specialize in arthritis foot care to help individuals with arthritis manage and alleviate the symptoms and challenges associated with this condition. Here are some of the key medical professionals who specialize in arthritis foot care:

• Rheumatologists

Rheumatologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. They play a central role in diagnosing and managing arthritis and can provide treatment options, including medications and referrals for foot care.

For more information on Rheumatology visit

• Podiatrists

Podiatrists are doctors of podiatric medicine (DPM) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle conditions. They are particularly important in arthritis foot care as they can provide detailed foot assessments, recommend appropriate footwear, prescribe custom orthotics, and offer treatments for foot-related arthritis symptoms. 

For more information on Podiatry visit

• Orthopedic Surgeons

Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including arthritis. They can provide surgical interventions when necessary, such as joint replacement surgery, to alleviate pain and improve joint function.

For more information on Orthopedics vist

• Physical Therapists

Physical therapists can design and implement exercise and physical therapy programs that focus on improving joint mobility, strength, and overall function in individuals with arthritis. These programs can help manage pain and maintain joint health.

For more information visit

• Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists work with individuals to improve their ability to perform daily activities, which may include providing strategies and adaptive equipment to ease the challenges presented by arthritis in the feet.
For moore information on Occupational Therapy

• Orthotists and Prosthetists

These specialists design and provide custom orthotic devices and footwear to address specific joint deformities and support the feet and ankles effectively.

For more information visit

• Orthopedic Footwear Specialists

These professionals can assist in selecting appropriate footwear that accommodates arthritis-related foot issues and provides the necessary support and cushioning.

For more information on Pedorthics visit

• Pain Management Specialists

Pain management specialists can help individuals with arthritis manage chronic pain associated with the condition, often through a combination of medications and non-pharmacological interventions.

For more information on doctors who manage pain visit

• Dietitians

Dietitians can provide guidance on dietary choices and nutritional strategies that may help manage inflammation and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with arthritis.

For more information visit

• Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

These healthcare providers may work in collaboration with rheumatologists and other specialists to provide ongoing care, monitoring, and education on arthritis management.

For Physician Assistants infor visit

For Nurse Practioners visit

Coordinating care among these professionals is often important to ensure that individuals with arthritis receive comprehensive and well-rounded foot care. The specific needs and preferences of the individual, as well as the type and severity of arthritis, will influence the choice of healthcare professionals involved in their care. A multidisciplinary approach to arthritis foot care can lead to better outcomes and an improved quality of life for individuals living with arthritis.

Where can I go to be fitted for shoes for arthritis? is a directory of foot health care professionals who are qualified and familiar with the challenges of fitting patients with arthritis. Call for an appointment before you visit.

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Conclusion on the Pedors Guide to Shoes For Arthritis

Well that about wraps it up for this page on Pedors Shoes For Arthritis

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