“The most common reason we prescribe orthopedic shoes is foot deformity or ‘at risk’ feet,” says holistic podiatrist, Robert Kornfeld, DPM. “Patients with diabetes (who have peripheral vascular disease or peripheral neuropathy) and non-diabetics with peripheral vascular disease and peripheral neuropathy are considered at risk.”
However, even if these conditions do not apply to you, you may want to consider a pair of shoes designed to provide support and relieve pain. Or, you might just need a pair that can accommodate a custom orthotic, which is an insert that helps align your foot.
Keep in mind that there are many off-the-shelf shoes that qualify as orthopedic, but may not fully meet your needs. “An authentic orthopedic shoe is made from a cast of the patient, so all of the anatomy and contour is considered in the construction of the shoe,” says Kornfeld. “There are companies that claim to make ‘orthopedic shoes’ that are supposed to put the foot in its proper anatomical position for function, but there is too much variation in foot structure and function for me to be sure. would suit my patients.”
The orthopedic shoes on our list are a great starting point for treating foot pain alone or with the help of an orthopedic insert. But if you’re hoping to better understand your own specific shoe needs, it’s best to see a podiatrist to get to the root of the problem, especially if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort.