Finding Footwear with Fibromyalgia

Taking Care of Your Sensitive Feet

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Q: "In a lot of pain and having trouble finding shoes that will work for me. Has anyone got any idea what type of shoe is better? I have tried so many and everyone I have tried is so uncomfortable and my feet are so painful. Could anyone give me ideas whats good and whats not please?" -Jackie

A: This is a really common problem in those of us with fibromyalgia. One study (Friend) showed that about 50 percent of us have foot pain.

We don't have research on what helps, though, so we have to go off of personal experience and learn from each other.

Finding the Right Shoe

Here's what I look for in a shoe:

  • To deal with my foot pain, the number one thing I look for in shoes is a good amount of cushion. I used to like a hard-soled shoe like Birkenstocks, but I can't tolerate those at all anymore. Now, the softer the sole the better.
  • My number two requirement is arch support -- nothing that puts a lot of pressure on my arch, but a little something.
  • Third is enough space so that nothing's putting too much pressure on any point. My feet aren't wide, but many of my shoes are.

Good shoes can be expensive, but you don't always have to spend more to get something comfortable. I usually shop at inexpensive shoe stores or look for sales.

Of course, what's comfortable for one person may not work for another. It's best to try on a wide range of shoes to see what feels best.

If you don't want to buy new shoes, you might want to consider a good insole. They can be a little spendy for those on a budget, but a bonus is that you may be able to use them in multiple pairs of shoes.

Slippers & Socks

I've noticed that when my feet hurt, I'm better off wearing a really well-cushioned slipper at home than I am going barefoot.

I have memory foam slippers that have gotten me through some really nasty bouts of foot hypersensitivity.

Something it took me a long to realize is how much the right socks can help!

I've discovered newer fibers that I love because they make for a very smooth sock -- no more of those ridges grinding into my skin and making it burn.

My favorites are actually made of rubber and other synthetic fibers, and they're amazing! They feel supportive and silky against my skin without being tight, yet they're thick enough to add padding to not-so-cushy shoes. They're also especially warm, which I definitely need in the winter.

Bamboo socks also feel amazing, and I have some super-soft terry cloth ones to wear around the house.

If you have skin allergies or sensitivities, tread with care when trying out new fibers.

I've heard from several people with fibromyalgia that sock elastic causes them a lot of pain. If that's a problem for you, you might want to try diabetic socks.

Get more help with footwear and other kinds of clothing:


For some of us, cold feet = sore feet, and hot feet = puffy, achy feet. Many of us struggle to keep our feet a comfortable temperature, but if we don 't we're in trouble.

In the winter, try keeping them covered. If they get chilled, you might need and outside source of heat, like use a heating pad or rice bag to get them warm.

In the summer, it may take ice packs or soaking in cold water to get them cooled down.

If your feet and/or hands get so cold that they turn blue, you should talk to your doctor about Raynaud's syndrome. It can cause permanent damage, so don't just write it off as another fibromyalgia symptom.

Learn More:


Friend R, Bennett RM. Arthritis research and therapy. 2011 Apr 8;13(2):R58. Distinguishing fibromyalgia from rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus in clinical questionnaires: an analysis of the revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and its variant, the Symptom Impact Questionnaire (SIQR), along with pain locations.