My feet hurt!

Hello everyone,

this is my first post although I've been getting the daily emails for a while and have enjoyed (maybe not quite the right word) reading everyone else's experiences. I was diagnosed with ra 8 months ago. It started in my shoulders then went roaming all around my body staying a couple of days in each joint then moving on. For the last few months its been fairly well controlled with dmards but my feet hurt all the time and its dring me crazy! Maybe 'hurt' is too strong a word given whats gone before but they are very uncomfortable. As a result I am obsessed with footwear... i spend hours on the Internet reading reviews of shoes! Its ridiculous i know because my bare feet hurt so no shoe us going to stop my feet hurting no matter how good they are! Even when I'm sitting down, no weight on my feet, they throb. Any advice anyone? I'm so tired of this disease already and it hasn't even been a year yet! I feel like half the person i was a year ago.


47 Replies

  • It may be that your disease isn't as well controlled as you think? You need to raise it with your rheumy, and I'd also suggest asking to be referred to a podiatrist. preferably one that specialises in rheumy related feet. I was and he really helped, partly because I now have custom made inserts for my shoes which are brilliant. But he also gave me exercises for my feet that have really made a difference and reduced pain levels. By the end of the day my feet can be throbbing, but they no longer hurt when I wake up. Sounds simple, but a few wiggly exercises every day to stretch out toes and arches and calves have made a remarkable difference.

  • Hi,

    thank you for replying. I'm a British expat living in goa and i don't actually have a rheumatologist. I was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon after months of pain. I really like my doctor but i know I'm not getting the level of care i would in the uk. But i will raise my continuing foot pain with him next appointment. My feet throb all day and all night so perhaps you are right, maybe the tablets aren't doing what they should? It's difficult to assess exactly what are realistic expectations and what aren't. I don't really know what level of pain free existence i should expect from treatment.

    thanks for your reply, its made me think.

  • Hi, well I can only tell you what works for me. I also have very painful feet. I've bought a pair of trainers shoes & boots from a firm called Hotters, which I found on the Internet. I find my feet are less painful when I wear them. Bare feet heels & flip flops are out. I have to keep them warm, I know for some people the opposite helps. I also walk everyday,to much, extra pain, to little extra pain, so I have to strike a balance. I guess what I'm saying is, that it's a bit trail n error & maybe excepting the footwear that you loved & wore before causes more pain than pleasure.

    Still kept a pair of heels in the cupboard just incase 😉

  • Hi Caza,

    at the monent i live in bare feet, flip flops or ugg type boots. Heels are totally out of the question! I'll have a look at hotters tomorrow! Its all just so frustrating! I want my old feet back!

  • Me too. Uggs are brilliant aren't they. Love mine. Hotters are not the height of fashion but boy do they do the job. Good luck

  • I'm lucky in that I have a branch of Hotter shoes in my town centre. They also sell Padders footwear. Here is there website address for UK.

  • Hi Gea,

    My initial response was to recommend an orthotics specialist but that probably is not on the cards for you - so I would look at some light exercises like gently rolling the ankles clockwise and anti clockwise by drawing circles as big as you can with your toes - best done whilst sat down and one foot at a time. Another exercise I was given is to put a flannel or similar on the floor and pick it up with your toes by using a scrunching action (again whilst sat down and one foot at a time). Flex toes towards and away from your knees. Raise your heels off the ground (again sat down) so that only your toes are touching the floor and gently roll your feet from left to right and visa versa to massage the toe joints. Be careful with all the above and to do a little 2 or 3 times a day is better than one long sesion and if anything makes it more painful stop.

    All the best


  • That's really helpful, thank you. I will start the exercises today. I haven't been given any advice like this before so thank you so much!

  • I just wanted to say thank you. I've been doing the exercises you recommended a few times every day and i can already notice a difference. In particular my toes are much more comfortable. I'm breally hopeful that the exercises combined with some better shoes will make abig difference. I'm very grateful. ☺

  • Good orthoses are brilliant - for me they make the difference between being able to work and not. I find that shoes with a fairly inflexible sole are best for me.

    As to being pain my early days on methotrexate, I was pain free for about 18 months. Unfortunately, the RD was just silently chewing my neck to bits, so my situation wasn't nearly as good as it seemed at the time. :( Some people do seem to be able to get to a very low/negligible level of disease activity as measured by swollen joints - not sure how well this corresponds to no pain though.

    Good luck with your shoe shopping!

  • Before i started the tablets i could hardly walk and all my joints hurt all the time but now I'm pretty much pain free except for my feet. One thing that hasn't improved though is the fatigue. I'm basically knackered all the time! But I'm pretty pleased with how well I've responded to treatment and if i could just find those perfect shoes....!

  • I have damage to my feet & find sketchers with memory foam insoles good. I've had the ones from orthotic department & they are so big now I can't get them in any shoes.

    Ask them to look at your feet to establish if it's damage or active disease x

  • Yes, I've been looking at sketchers and memory foam! How do they tell if it's active disease or not?

  • Blood tests really gea. They test for rheumatoid factor among other things, but the RF isn't always there, even though you have RA. The best site you can go to for information on this type of thing is the NRAS site if you haven't already visited it, try here:

    Another good site is the Arthritis Care site, here:

    It deals with all autoimmune diseases, so you will have to search for RA info.

  • I had blood tests when i was diagnosed which showed rf. At the time i was told that my ra was low to middling in terms of aggressiveness and since I've responded well to the medication the doctor hasn't done any more tests. Have read so many websites for information but its very nice to get feedback from other sufferers. I've learnt loads from all the replies I've received today. Thank you.

  • As well as the ankle stretches Ali-H has suggested I found that calf stretches really made a big difference. Took a couple of weeks but reduced pain hugely. Here's a link to one site, but you can probably find others

    I know a lot of people find soft shoes like Uggs and flip flops feel good, but for me these just don't give your foot any support and do more harm than good in the long term for lots of foot problems. I would try on a couple of shoes with a shaped sole that supports the arch of your foot, and holds the heel, and see whether these feel as if they might help you. Hard to tell in just a few minutes in a shop, but you might be surprised.

    But I'm sure there must be a podiatrist somewhere in Goa, so do think about booking an appointment even if you have to pay for it.

  • I expect there is one somewhere but so far i have had no luck finding one so i might try to see someone next time I'm in the uk. I think you are right that i need to try some more supportive shoes.

  • my bare feet hurt, but actually if I have the right shoes then my feet don't hurt anywhere near as much if they are in shoes. The right shoes for me are well fitting natural leather (because that moulds better to the shape of your feet than synthetics) with a very springy sole. For my feet, Joseph Seibel shoes are great, though I realise they may not suit everyone.

  • That's actually what I'm hoping....that once i find the right shoes it will help! I'm writing all these recommendations down for later surfing!

  • Fly-flot and Fly-flot dream sandals are my choice. they are "anatomic" - they mould to the shape of your feet as you wear them.

    I like sketchers memory foam trainers & go-walk pumps,comfy - but go-walk2 rubbed my feet!

    let us know :)



    p.s. my friend rubs Vic (menthol chest rub) on her feet! she says it helps :-O

  • Thanks so much for the tips.... if i find the perfect shoes i will be sure to share the information!

  • Welcome to us here & pleased you decided to join in. I can really empathise with your troublesome feet as mine are too. What my Rheumy said was it's specifically disease activity in my feet which having been left for 2 years means I no longer have the fatty pads on the soles so I'm walking on bone & my instep has virtually collapsed. She increased my MTX & referred me to Podietry who on the first visit removed all the corns on the base of my feet & gave me a basic heel cup orthotic. I now see her regularly & it's really made a difference.

    I used to wear Fly Flots which were comfort personified but unfortunately I now have to wear enclosed shoes, flats are out which is fine by me as I fall over in my bare feet to it's wedges only for me now. Because of the problems with my feet she asked me to wear trainers round the house but as I need to have my heel elevated they were really difficult to find. I eventually bought a pair of Clarks Wave Walk & since bought a different pair & some Mary Jane Shoes from the same range. All are very comfy & each inner sole is removeable to accommodate my orthotic.

    I would recommend seeing a Podietrist or Chiropodist if it's at all possible, they can work wonders. :)

  • Thank you for the welcome and I'll check out all those shoes. And i definately think I'll get my feet looked at when I'm in the uk next month.

  • Try skechers shape ups - they really make a difference to me :)

  • Hi

    My feet used to hurt more in the early stages of RA, buy the meds have helped so has finding the right shoes, I could never find the width I needed so would have to go up sizes, I am a 5.½ but would need a 7 for the width... Then I discovered Hotter, i am now back in the correct size, they have various width fittings, but I have to try them on as their different designs have a different width fitting. They don't seem to all be standard! I also need a strap across the top, this stops my toes having to grip, something they cannot do any more. Hotter have nice soft padding on the soles, there are some designs I can have with a slight heel which I love, as I don't seem to walk well without a heel, for dog walking I have good walking boots, they give good support .

    Good luck with your hunt for shoes and with the pain, good the meds help you soon .


  • Thank you all for your suggestions. I'm inspired to find the right shoes now!

  • Totally understand. They eventually found a drug that worked so well that it put me into remission for 7 years. Everything was fine except for 2 things - fatigue and my feet! After a while you get so used to painful feet that you just ignore it an put up with the pain when walking. And joints in the feet do not even count for the DAS!!

    Re shoes, I have never liked spending money on expensive clothes for myself and used to buy smart but inexpensive shoes. After RA, all that changed and I now find that Hotter and Clarks are so much more comfortable to walk in. And yes, I do find it more comfortable to wear these than to walk in bare feet. Don't know whether that helps at all?

  • It does indeed, thank you. Time to invest in some decent footwear i think!

  • When all others have failed Sketchers work for me - walking outside is now very painful without them.

  • Hi i have had this disease for about 13 years and have always had painful feet no matter which meds i am on i had shoes boots trainers made but still painful.They are sore right up the back of the heels and ankles sometimes i just cant move but to buy the sketchers best for me bare feet in the house even slippers not good hope you get the help you need x

  • Hi...I was diagnosed with JIA when I was 24 after having symptoms since my teenage years. Due to the delay, my hands and feet were probably the worst in terms of joint erosion damage and as such my toe joints are in a crimped, fixed position. Since a child, I always struggled finding shoes to fit due to the width and high instep, but since having painful joints, it is quite a challenge finding anything suitable. I'm luckily enough to have found a place in London who make bespoke shoes and have a fitting there next week. I am hoping these will work out and will support and cushion my feet at the same time (maybe I will need an orthotic insoles, but we will see). It is an expense, but only one pair of feet we have and I figured what they go through day to day, I need to invest in them!! Up until now, I have lived every season in Emu boots, but am finding lack of arch support. Have you tried the Dr. Comfort footwear range? I have a pair of trainer style shoes which are comfortable. Don't give up - I know it can be incredably frustrating, but give yourself time to adjust and you'll find that there are work around solutions - just takes a bit of time to research :)

    Hope this helps - let me know if you have any further questions x

  • Good luck with the custom made shoes. I'm not nearly as bad as yours sound. You have my sympathy! I'll have a look at dr comfort,thank you!

  • I have found foot massage to help. I wear usa pro trainers that have a rocking action. These are rigid and definitely help with my fused big toe. Recommended by podiatrist. My feet are often burning hot especially at bedtime and I find a cool foot bath helps. Good luck

  • Thanks. I was actually wondering about buying a foot spa for that very reason. Might be worth a try.

  • When you say they throb do you get burning pain and are they red? Just wondering if you have Erythromelalgia. If yours do feel like this check it out.

  • I had a look online and no, thankfully they aren't red like that. Looks very painful indeed. Thanks for the suggestion, glad to be able to rule it out!

  • OK thank goodness that isn't like yours! Gosh it's awful the worst thing I have ever had in my life and it is very often caused by RA which is why I asked.

  • I hope you aren't still suffering with it?

  • Unfortunately, yes I am!

  • Poor old you! You have my sympathy.

  • thanks I am in the process of finding something to help, but it's not easy.

  • The only shoes I can wear are MBT shoes. They have rocker sole which means my toes are comfy. Any other shoes and I gripping my husband's arm and hobbling with MBT I can enjoy a lengthy walk. They are expensive and you should try them on for fit. They now operate out of Asia so may be available in Goa and their sandals are good. I am comforted by the fact they are considered trendy!

  • Thank you, I'll have a look.

  • i have had to come to it. . . . . My feet are so sore and swollen,

    So HOTTER for me. Spent £130 on 2 pairs, sandals and a pair of wet weather

    enclosed shoes. BRILLIANT.although slight old fashioned . I am 61.

  • I hope your feet will be very happy in them!

  • Get straight to your doctor and ask if then can get you an appointment with your local NHS podiatrist. This is the main symptom I struggle with. I thought exactly the same as you, but I now have special insoles that are amazing. I also had an appointment with a shoe technician and now have comfortable shoes for the first time in 7 years! I hope this helps. I feel your pain. X

  • Unfortunately I'm not in the uk and here (goa) there don't seem to be any specialists to consult. I'm going to try with some more supportive shoes (loads of good suggestions here) and some cushioned insoles so hopefully that will help a lot as at the moment I'm just living in flip flops or bare feet. I'm very glad you've managed to find something that works for you. X

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