What Are the Best Shoes for Gout Flare-Ups?

What Are the Best Shoes for Gout Flare-Ups?

If you’ve ever suffered from gout—or you’ve seen a close friend or family member deal with a gout flare-up—you know it’s an incredibly painful condition. While many factors contribute to gout, the immediate cause is a high concentration of uric acid in the blood, which leads to urate crystals accumulating in your joints. These crystals cause inflammation and swelling that lead to intense pain, often in the toes, feet, ankles, knees and/or hands.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines. Purines are found naturally in our bodies and are present in higher concentrations in certain foods and drinks—primarily meats, seafood and beer. In a normal situation, uric acid dissolves in our blood and passes through our kidneys without incident. But during a gout attack, there’s an excess build-up of the acid (perhaps because of an increased intake of purines or poor kidney function), and the nasty symptoms hit.

Finding Gout Relief

The symptoms of a gout attack often come on suddenly and intensely—sometimes waking people up in the middle of the night. And while the initial intense pain may subside for hours at a time, you will likely still be suffering from discomfort, swollen joints, and decreased mobility and range of motion until the attack subsides completely. If you think you’re experiencing a gout attack, professionals recommend seeing your doctor, as this is not a condition that should go untreated.

In consultation with your doctor, you may find relief through medication, dietary changes, staying well-hydrated as well as taking certain steps at home to find as much comfort as possible during a flare-up. If the attack is affecting your toes or feet, one of those steps could relate to your choice of footwear.

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Best Shoes for Gout

During a gout attack, any pressure on swollen joints increases pain, so tight-fitting socks and shoes are a no-go. To relieve pain, it is often recommended to keep affected feet bare when possible. When going barefoot is not possible, try wearing spacious shoes that give your toes and feet plenty of room so that nothing is pinched or cramped. Because your feet will be swollen, you might opt for a wide width of a soft, roomy shoe to create the most comfortable feel for your feet.

The big toe joint is the most commonly affected joint when it comes to gout, so avoid any shoes with a pointy toebox that puts pressure on your big-toe joint and forces it toward your other toes.

While some people recommend wearing cushioned and nonflexible shoes for gout, there is some controversy over this advice. Those in the pro-cushion camp say that flexible or minimal shoes might cause you to put more pressure on your big-toe joint. Dr. Campitelli, a podiatrist based in Ohio, says his experience has given him a different perspective. He says cushiony shoes cause us to strike with our heels and push off with our toes, and this actually stresses the big-toe joint. On the other hand, wearing minimal shoes causes us to strike mid-foot and take shorter strides when we move. This means we actually push off more with our leg muscles, and rely less on pushing off with our big toes, which puts less overall pressure on our big-toe joints.

A customer recently ordered a pair of our Solstice sandals in wide width, because she was experiencing a gout flare-up and needed a soft, lightweight, roomy shoe to help ease her pain. She reported back to us that, so far, the results have been great: “You have made me a truly fantastic pair of shoes! They fit beautifully and I can wear them today in the middle of a gout flare—yea!” She said the shoes were light and comfortable on her feet.

Another Softstar devotee (and, full disclosure, husband of one of our owners), also suffers from occasional gout attacks. He says that when a flare-up hits someone, they end up walking very tenderly, as “over-striking” or pushing off the toe is painful and quickly avoided. In his experience, he says it’s best to have a roomy, soft shoe that does not exert much force on the toe joint. The last time he had a flare-up, he wore his Softstar Rogues, which were already nicely broken-in and stretched, so they provided sufficient room. He remarked that he still limped around, but that the Rogues were by far the best shoe he had to stay as comfortable as possible.

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The spacious and comfy Softstar Rogue

All of the shoes we make here at Softstar are designed with a “barefoot feel” in mind. The shape of our shoes gives your toes plenty of room and won’t unnaturally scrunch up your feet, as many modern shoe styles do. They are also flexible, soft and lightweight. As you consult with your practitioner about your gout relief strategies, you may choose to try a pair of roomy minimal shoes to remove pressure from your swollen feet. Of course, if you can, rest up and stay off your feet as much as possible during your bout with gout. We wish you a smooth road back to pain-free feet!

Please note: while we are shoemakers who are passionate about foot health, we are not doctors and cannot prescribe medical advice. Consult your health care practitioner if you think you’re suffering from gout, and work together to develop a treatment plan.

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6 Comments

  1. Shabina
    Hi,
    My husband have gout. Can I find out more about gout shoe? Do u send to Singapore ?
    Reply
    1. Elf Martin
      Hi Shabina. Yes, we ship to Singapore. What else would you like to know about shoes for gout? Please keep in mind we're not doctors, but if you contact our customer service team at elves@softstarshoes.com they will help you find the best shoes for your husband's feet.
      Reply
  2. Claire Brown
    I suffer from gout and want to try a pair of your shoes...I need to know if they have an arch support....they look totally flat. Can you please let me know. I have to have some sort of arch support. And are they cussioned insoles?
    Reply
    1. Elf Martin
      Hi Claire. Yes, our shoes are totally flat with no arch support and no cushioning in the innersoles. We believe arch supports and cushioning act ac crutches that actually make your feet weaker over time. For more information about this, please check out our blog post about arches: http://www.softstarshoes.com/live-bare-blog/2013/03/04/the-mighty-arch-a-natural-cure-for-plantar-fasciitis/ or this post about flat feet from Correct Toes: https://www.correcttoes.com/foot-help/arch-height-vs-arch-function/
      Reply
  3. William
    I wear a size 16, I'm 6'8 395 lbs. I can't seem to find any footwear to fit me that would help. All the sizes of the shoes you recommend only go up to size 10.5. Any assistance would be most appreciated. Gout suffere in TN.
    Reply
    1. Elf Martin
      Hi William. I'm happy to say we have more shoe styles that we can make in size 16 that aren't listed here. Our Rambler, for example, would be recommended for gout flare ups and we've made them up to size 18 in the past. Please contact our customer service team to discuss further: elves@softstarshoes.com or 541-753-5845.
      Reply
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