“The most common reason we prescribe orthopedic shoes is for foot deformity or ‘at risk’ feet,” explains holistic podiatrist, Robert Kornfeld, DPM. “Patients with diabetes (who suffer from peripheral vascular disease or peripheral neuropathy) and non-diabetics with peripheral vascular disease and peripheral neuropathy are considered at risk.”
Still, even if those conditions don’t apply to you, you may want to consider a pair of shoes that is designed to offer support and alleviate pain. Or, you might simply need a pair that can accommodate a custom orthotic, which is an insert that works to bring your foot into alignment.
Keep in mind, there are plenty of off-the-shelf shoes out there that label themselves as orthopedic, but might not be a total fit for your needs. “An authentic orthopedic shoe is fabricated off a cast of the patient, so all of the anatomy and contour is considered in the construction of the shoe,” Kornfeld explains. “There are companies who claim to make ‘orthopedic shoes’ that supposedly put the foot in its proper anatomical position for function, but there are too many variations in foot structure and function for me to feel confident that they would be fine for my patients.”
The orthopedic shoes on our list are a great starting point for addressing foot pain on their own, or with the help of an orthotic insert. But if you’re hoping to get a better understanding of your own specific footwear needs, it’s best to see a podiatrist to get to the root of the problem—especially if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort.