What are Orthopedic Shoes?

Malcolm Tatum

Orthopedic shoes are specially designed shoes that provide support and pain relief for people suffering with some type of pain in the legs, ankles, or feet. Historically, the shoes are designed with an eye more toward function than fashion, although the orthopedic footwear of today is usually more attractive than the selections in years past. While many people assume that only the elderly wear medical shoes of this type, the fact is that the orthopedic shoe is worn by people of all ages.

Orthopedic socks are sometimes sufficient to alleviate stress and discomfort in the feet and lower legs.
Orthopedic socks are sometimes sufficient to alleviate stress and discomfort in the feet and lower legs.

Generally, the main function of orthopedic shoes is to provide more support for the feet and ankles than is accomplished by basic footwear. The exact design for the shoes will vary, depending on the nature of the particular health problem of the wearer. For example, different types of orthopedic shoes would be used to provide relief for such condition as bunions, hammertoe, or fallen arches. There is no one design for the orthopedic shoe that will effectively work for all types of foot or leg problems.

Ill-fitting shoes may cause hammertoe.
Ill-fitting shoes may cause hammertoe.

In general, wearing orthopedic shoes is a good idea whenever there is any type of health issue that makes it painful to walk. This includes foot conditions that make wearing commercial shoes uncomfortable, or situations where walking in regular shoes causes fatigue and pain in the muscles or bones of the legs. Because people of all ages and genders can experience pain of this type, there are shoes designed for children and adults alike.

Z-coil shoes are designed specifically to reduce foot pain.
Z-coil shoes are designed specifically to reduce foot pain.

Along with the shoes, there are other forms of orthopedic footwear that may be appropriate. Orthopedic socks are sometimes sufficient to alleviate stress and discomfort in the feet and lower legs. Orthopedic slippers are useful for wearing around the house. Wearing orthopedic boots may provide additional support to the ankles and legs that could not be achieved with orthopedic shoes.

People who suffer from foot pain may benefit from wearing orthopedic shoes.
People who suffer from foot pain may benefit from wearing orthopedic shoes.

While footwear of this type were once constructed using basic black materials, the orthopedic shoes of today are available in a wider range of colors. The wider selection of colors makes it possible to select shoes that fit into an individual’s usual style of dress with greater ease. Orthopedic boots and slippers are available in a wider range of colors as well.

Orthopedic shoes may be used to relieve ankle pain.
Orthopedic shoes may be used to relieve ankle pain.

There are several characteristics that just about all orthopedic shoes and boots have in common. The heels are generally extra firm and low in comparison to the heels found on many other types of shoes. Wide toes help to eliminate pinching, while the shank help to support the heel and back of the ankle with enhanced efficiency. It is also not unusual for orthopedic shoes to be constructed with inner soles that can be removed. This makes it possible to utilize different inner soles that will provide the most comfort and support for a particular individual.

Orthopedic shoes can help prevent foot injury in athletes.
Orthopedic shoes can help prevent foot injury in athletes.
Orthopedic shoes may be worn to compensate for problems caused by wearing high heels.
Orthopedic shoes may be worn to compensate for problems caused by wearing high heels.
Orthopedic shoes may be used in conjunction with physical therapy to relieve pain in the legs.
Orthopedic shoes may be used in conjunction with physical therapy to relieve pain in the legs.
Orthopedic shoes might help treat and prevent bunions.
Orthopedic shoes might help treat and prevent bunions.
People who experience difficulty walking as a result of a bunion may benefit from acquiring orthopedic shoes.
People who experience difficulty walking as a result of a bunion may benefit from acquiring orthopedic shoes.
Bunions, which can be relieved by orthopedic shoes, can cause pain when walking.
Bunions, which can be relieved by orthopedic shoes, can cause pain when walking.

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Discussion Comments

closerfan12

I've always kind of liked the older chunky ones -- not for wearing, but because they remind me of my grandmother.

galen84basc

@StreamFinder -- Just google "stylish orthopedic shoes" or "fashionable orthopedic shoes" -- a bunch of results will come up.

So they certainly aren't stiletto stylish, but there really are a lot of decent looking designs out there, and they come in different styles too -- everything from sandals to clogs to Mary Janes.

Best of luck!

StreamFinder

Is it really possible to find stylish orthopedic shoes?

My podiatrist says I have fallen arches and should start wearing orthopedic shoes, but the ones he showed me in brochures were, well...not nice.

Maybe I've just got a hangup about it, but it seems that most orthopedic shoes are just chunky.

Am I just looking in the wrong places, or have I got a blind spot about this?

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