Poor Footwear Increases Pain in Gout Patients

Gout pain eased with supportive shoes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Wearing shoes that lack support and cushioning can worsen foot pain in people with gout, a type of arthritis marked by sudden attacks of severe pain in joints, especially in the feet.

A study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research found that gout patients who wore poor footwear reported moderate to severe foot pain, impairment and disability, while those who wore proper footwear were less likely to experience report foot problems.

"Gout sufferers should consider wearing supportive, cushioned shoes."

The study’s researchers monitored the shoe choices of 50 people with acute gout. About 42% of the patients wore non-supportive footwear, including sandals, slippers, flip-flops, or moccasins, while 2% wore boots, which the researchers considered “average,” comfort-wise. The other 56% of patients wore proper, supportive footwear, including walking or athletic shoes and oxfords.

Poor footwear led to increased pain in gout patients because the shoes “lack cushioning, control and stability,” according to lead researcher Keith Rome, a professor of podiatry at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand.

Rome noted that more than half of the study’s patients wore shoes that were more than a year old and showed excessive wear.

When asked about their choice of footwear, the patients said that comfort was the top factor (98%), followed by fit (90%), support (79%) and cost (60%).

“We suggest that proper footwear selection be discussed with gout patients to reduce foot pain and impairment,” Rome said in a press release.

Patients with gout should look for shoes with a “rocker” bottom, which has a thick sole and rounded heel, says Dr. Jon Smedley, a podiatrist at Precision Podiatry in Round Rock, Texas. “[The shoes] will limit motion of the affected joints,” he says.

Smedley recommends that gout sufferers wear MBT shoes or Skechers “Shape-ups.”

You can also opt for custom-made orthotics. “A rocker bottom can be applied to most any shoe,” says Smedley.

About 6 million Americans suffer from gout. The condition occurs when you have higher-than-normal levels of uric acid – a chemical created by breakdown of substances in the body – in your blood. People who drink excessively or who have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, or untreated high blood pressure (hypertension) are more likely to develop gout.

There are two types of gout: acute gout, typically affecting one joint in the body, or chronic gout, which involves repeated attacks in more than one joint.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 3, 2011
Last Updated:
October 7, 2011