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Arthritis Health Center

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Wrong Shoes Make Gout Pain Worse

Some Shoes That Seem Comfortable Can Actually Worsen Foot Pain, Researchers Say
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Oct. 3, 2011 -- Sandals may look comfortable, but they can actually worsen the pain of people with gout.

Researchers in New Zealand say people with gout commonly wear the wrong type of shoes, leading to increased pain, impairment, and disability.

A group of scientists led by Keith Rome, PhD, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, signed up 50 gout patients from rheumatology clinics, and assessed their footwear choices.

Careful Footwear Selection Needed

The study showed that many gout patients wore shoes with "poor footwear characteristics that included poor cushioning, lack of support, lack of stability, and motion control," Rome says in an email.

About 56% of the participants made good footwear choices, such as athletic sneakers, walking shoes, or oxfords.

But 42% of the gout sufferers wore footwear that can aggravate pain, such as sandals, flip-flops, slippers, or moccasins. None of those in the study wore high-heeled shoes and 2% said they wore boots.

Old Shoes Pose Problems

Rome tells WebMD that more than 50% of the shoes worn by these patients were a year or more old, and demonstrated excessive wear patterns.

Still, when they do get around to buying new shoes, the "patients reported comfort, fit, support, and cost as important factors in choosing
their own footwear," Rome says.

Specifically, 98% of the participants identified comfort as an important factor in selecting footwear, 90% said fit, 79% support, and 60% cost.

Cheaper Shoes for Gout Patients Might Help

Further research needs to be done that will allow doctors and patients to better recognize the best shoes available for comfort that also are economically priced, the researchers write. Gout patients need shoes that are wide enough, have ample cushioning, and allow motion control.

More than half of those in the study mentioned cost as a factor in shoe selection, suggesting that cost may influence gout patients to purchase improper footwear.

Obesity may also be a factor in pain related to the footwear of gout patients, the researchers write.

Rome and his colleagues suggest that proper footwear selection be discussed with gout patients to reduce foot pain and impairment.

Previous research has shown that gout is on the increase around the world and is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis affecting men.

The study is published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

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