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List of the Best Shoes for Arthritis

written by: Robin Hawkins • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/27/2010

If you are an arthritis sufferer, you may have given up on the idea of ever wearing stylish shoes. However, recent studies have shown that what health professionals once recommended as the best shoes for arthritis, may not necessarily be a good fit for arthritis patients.

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    What is Arthritis?

    Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. It can include swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints, accompanied by an increase in the fluid around the joints as well as pain. Arthritis affects the normal function of the joints ranging from mild to severe. Causes of arthritis are varied and include the normal wear and tear on joints, called osteoarthritis; or rheumatoid arthritis in which swelling and joint pain are associated with an overactive immune system.

    The treatment of arthritis is as varied as the types of arthritis there are. Generally speaking, being able to control the inflammation and preserve the joint function are at the root of all types of treatment. Lifestyle changes, physical therapy, heat and cold therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and surgery are some of the ways that people treat their arthritic conditions.

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    Can Shoes Really Help with Arthritic Conditions?

    Can a good shoe really help arthritis patients? Health care professionals say yes. However, what was once recommended as a good shoe for arthritis patients may no longer be considered the best shoes for arthritis. A recent study supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in Arthritis Care and Research, compared clogs, athletic shoes with stability features, flats, flip flops and walking barefoot for their effectiveness in helping with arthritis pain. It came as a surprise to health professionals that clogs and stability shoes, which have always been recommended for arthritic knees, were associated with the highest load or force. In fact, these shoes had a 15% higher load than the flat walking shoes, flip flops and going barefoot.

    Based on this research, it is believed that the flatness and flexibility of shoes may provide the most benefits for arthritic feet and knees and therefore, are considered the best shoes for arthritis.

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    What Are the Best Shoes for People with Arthritis?

    Choosing the best shoes can be a trial and error. What works for one person with arthritis may not necessarily work for another. And while this study has shown that flip flops ranked at the top of the list, they may not be the best shoe type for reasons like the increased risk of tripping and falling.

    If shoe shopping for arthritis is a concern for you, your doctor can make recommendations based on information gathered from you and by inspecting the shoes you currently wear. This shoe exam acts as a “history book" for your doctor to see how the shoes have worn over the recent months. He or she will observe whether or not your shoe is leaning to one side over the other or any evidence of deformity or alignment.

    When shoe shopping, it is good to start by looking for flat shoes with a flexible sole. Another beneficial feature of shoes for arthritis is a shoe with wide toes. The wide toe box allows for space should swelling occur, thus limiting toe rubbing and blisters. Additionally, shoes with padding in the heels will act as a shock absorber, offsetting any discomfort in the joints of your heel.

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    List of Some of the Best Shoes for Arthritis:

    An important thing to note when shopping for the best shoes for arthritis is to purchase and maintain good shoes and replace them regularly. The following are some name brands of commonly recommended shoes for arthritis:

    Acor

    Bite

    Brooks

    Comfortrite

    Darco

    Drew

    Finn Comfort

    Gentlestep

    Kumfs

    Mephisto

    Naot

    New Balance

    Orthofeet

    P.W. Minor

    Sanita

    Saucony

    Standing Comfort

    Zappos

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    Sources:

    WebMd: "Arthritis Footcare: It's in the Shoes": www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/arthritis-footcare-shoes

    Medicine Net: "Flip Flops, Flat Shoes Relieve Arthritic Knees": www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=114828

    Healthy Shoe Store: "Shoes for Arthritis": www.healthyshoestore.com/conditions-arthritis.html