“The most common reason for prescribing orthopedic shoes is a deformity of the foot or the ‘at-risk’ foot, the holistic podiatrist explains, Robert Kornfield, DPM. “People with diabetes (with 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 may simply need a pair that can accommodate a custom orthotic, an accessory that aligns your foot.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of off-the-shelf shoes that classify themselves as orthopedic, but they may not be quite right for your needs. “The original orthotic shoe is made from a mold of the patient, so both anatomy and contour are taken into account when constructing the shoe,” Kornfield explains. “There are companies that claim to make ‘orthotic shoes’ that are supposed to put the foot in the appropriate anatomical position for the job, but there are so many differences in the structure and function of the foot for me to feel confident that they will be good for my patients.”
The orthotic shoes on our list are a great starting point for treating foot pain on their own, or with the help of an orthotic accessory. But if you’re hoping to get a better understanding of your shoe needs, it’s best to see a podiatrist to get to the root of the problem—especially if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort.