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Aches and pains? Podiatrists share tips on choosing shoes for neuropathy feet

Fend off foot pain with these supportive styles.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Standing on your feet for hours on end during a busy day can leave your feet feeling tired and sore. Most of us tend to bounce right back the next day, but for anyone living with neuropathy, aches and pains (sometimes severe) are a routine part of daily life.

Like many people, the Shop TODAY team has heard the term neuropathy before, but we weren't exactly up to speed on the condition's symptoms and causes. So we tapped podiatrists to find out more, and we also asked them to share some shoe shopping tips to help anyone with neuropathy find the best fit possible.

Shoe necessities | Sneaker recommendations | Other shoes to shop | Meet the experts

What shoes work best for neuropathy?

Sneakers, sneakers, sneakers! This athletic shoe style is the best option for anyone dealing with neuropathy. "Athletic, stable sneakers with semi-rigid soles would be the most comfortable," podiatrist Dr. Asim Sayed says. Board-certified podiatric foot surgeon Dr. Suzanne Levine also suggests looking for styles that are "soft and shock-absorbent with good ankle support."

Not sure how to tell if sneakers will be supportive enough to deal with your foot pain? Sayed shared the following tip. "You can test the soles by holding a shoe horizontally, one hand holding the toe and one on the heel and lightly twisting each end in the opposite direction. How far you can twist and how much it bends, loosely tells you how much support it has. Ideally, there would be little to no bend or twist," he explains.

Sneakers aren't always an appropriate option, especially if you're attending a special event where dressier clothes are required. For times like this, there are a few shoe styles that work well for neuropathy. "It’s important to always look for well-cushioned and supportive styles. Heels with a platform or wedge and thick ankle straps and dress shoes with well-fitted, semi-rigid soles will provide the most comfort when sneakers aren’t an option," Sayed says.

Supportive shoes aren't the only way you can keep neuropathy at bay. Levine also suggests trying analgesic cream, wearing support stockings or putting legs and feet up during the day.

Sneakers for women with neuropathy to shop

Hoka Clifton 9

What we like
  • Podiatrist-recommended brand
  • "Great arch support along with stability."
Something to note
  • Some reviewers noted it was too much cushion; added too much height

Sizes: 5-12 | Widths: Regular and wide | Colors: 17 | Cushioning/insole features: The Clifton 9 offers a "balanced" amount of cushioning compared to other shoes that might have a more plush or responsive amount

If you're looking for a shoe that's able to pass the bend-and-twist method Sayed mentioned above, look no further than Hokas. This sneaker offers more cushion than other styles, with the brand noting that it provides a "forgiving impact" upon landing.

Asics Gel-Nimbus 24

What we like
  • Feels like "walking on air." 
  • "Provides great stability" 
Something to note
  • Reviewers noted that previous versions of this shoe included better overall features; the changes are drastic

Sizes: 5-13 | Widths: Standard | Colors: 19 | Cushioning/insole features: Contains the brand's FF Blast Plus Cushioning, that offers an "energized feeling"

Made with the maximum amount of cushion, this tennis shoe from Asics provides ultimate support when active. "It's like walking on a combination of pillows and trampolines; a highly cushioned and springy sensation propels me as I walk," said one reviewer.

These lightweight shoes also include a rubber layer on the bottom of the shoe to ensure stability when wearing.

Sorel Kinetic Rnegd Strap Sneaker

What we like
  • Distinct design
  • "Comfortable and stylish and good quality."
Something to note
  • Velcro strap is too short to secure and fasten shoes.
  • Some noted blisters on the back of their heel after continued use. 

Sizes: 6-11 | Widths: Doesn't specify | Colors: 3 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a "cloud-like comfort," according to the brand; features a brand-specific midsole, that offers padding

Complete with a breathable mesh upper and a cushioned collar, these sneakers from Sorel merge fashion and function. They have a foam midsole that keeps feet cushioned, a platform heel that gives you a healthy amount of lift and a high traction outsole that helps grip all sort of street conditions.

OrthoFeet Verve Tie-Less Sneakers

What we like
  • Help with wide feet and bone spurs
  • Provide "significant pain relief"
Something to note
  • Advertised as "slip-on" but difficult to without untying laces, according to reviewers.

Sizes: 5-12 | Widths: Standard, wide and extra wide | Colors: 3 | Cushioning/insole features: Has a cushioning sole that "improves the ease of walking"

OrthoFeet specializes in shoes for a number of foot conditions, and this particular pair works well for many of them, including neuropathy. They're made with a removable orthotic insole that offers arch support and a wide toe-box that leaves plenty of room, which is ideal if you experience swelling during the day. The tie-less lacing is also pretty convenient and a heel strap lets you make sure you have a comfy grip around your heel.

Dansko Pace Walking Shoe

What we like
  • "Most comfortable shoe to date," according to one reviewer
  • "Perfect for long shifts or as a walking shoe"
Something to note
  • Long breaking in period.
  • Outsole is low-quality.

Sizes: 5.5-12 | Widths: Regular and wide | Colors: 5 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a brand-specific "Propel Pad" for increased cushioning and "forward acceleration"

Featuring Dansko's Natural Arch Plus technology, these walking shoes put a premium on comfort with their shock absorbing heel cushion and arch support. As an added bonus, the material is treated with an odor control shield that keeps them nice and fresh, and a stain-resistant 3M Scotchgard protector.

"You feel like you are walking on air," one shopper wrote in their product review. Another commented, "Great shoes for being on your feet all day."

Apex Boss Runner Active Shoe

What we like
  • "Spacious fit."
  • "Very comfortable and supportive." 
Something to note
  • Reviewers had complaints about sizing and determining which width to purchase.
  • Thin fabric and materials. 

Sizes: 5-13 | Widths: Medium, wide and extra wide | Colors: 1 | Cushioning/insole features: Has a "multi-density" midsole, as well as padding all around the shoe

Designed to tackle the foot pain caused by conditions like neuropathy and plantar fasciitis, these sneakers will offer your tired tootsies some much needed relief. Aside from offering plenty of arch support, they also have a slip-resistant rubber outsole, a stabilizing footbridge and space for custom orthotic insoles.

"The Boss Runnner's extra depth and rounded toes give ample space for my hammertoes and the swelling of neuropathy. And the great arch supports afford welcome relief for my flat feet," one reviewer wrote.

Kuru Quantum Sneaker

What we like
  • "Shoe is sturdy and well-made." 
  • No break-in period.
Something to note
  • Some reviewers claimed they were still too tight, despite multiple width options.
  • Toe box isn't spacious; toes fell asleep and started to hurt.

Sizes: 5-12 | Widths: Medium and wide | Colors: 8 | Cushioning/insole features: Features the maximum amount of cushioning the brand has to offer, with versions of this shoe ranking in at a 9/10 and 10/10

One of several Kuru styles that's ideal for neuropathy, these trainers combine the comfort of a running shoe and the casual vibe of an everyday sneaker. Notable features include a spacious toe box, excellent arch support and a shock-absorbent midsole.

One customer with neuropathy shared the following rave review: "I was finding it painful to walk for more than 5 minutes, and my feet would start swelling almost immediately with my other shoes. They were good quality too. Used to work just fine before my health declined. But now that I have the Quantum's, I don't have that swelling, tingling, or pain at all. Complete life changer for me."

Heels for women with neuropathy to shop

Cushionaire Mandy Cork Espadrille Wedge Sandal

What we like
  • Slip-on design
  • "Walking on a cloud"
Something to note
  • Wide width "not wide enough"

Sizes: 5-11 | Widths: Standard and wide | Colors: 5 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a cushioned, cork insole.

These espadrille wedge sandals feature comfortable cork insole and a wedge platform, still giving you the height and support you need. "The height is not too high or too low it’s just right! I can wear them all day and night without feeling uncomfortable!" says one verified reviewer.

Liz Claiborne Emerson Heeled Sandals

What we like
  • Easy to wear, stylish
Something to note
  • Blisters common with reviewers
  • Need inserts for more comfort

Sizes: 5-12 | Widths: Medium and wide | Colors: 3 | Cushioning/insole features: Synthetic footbed and soles

The best heels for neuropathy patients are low and chunky or wedges, according to Levine. If you'll be spending most of your time sporting sneakers and want to save a bit on special occasion shoes, these heeled sandals are a worthy option with their thick ankle straps and solid heel.

Target Pippa Stretch Boots

What we like
  • "Super comfy," "good looking"
Something to note
  • "Didn't last" for long

Sizes: 6-9.5 | Widths: Medium, wide | Colors: 2 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a cushioned insole

A stylish addition to your wardrobe, no matter the temperature outside, these boots feature a nearly -inch threeheel, making them perfect for peeking out underneath jeans or for making a statement with a miniskirt.

A stretchy opening makes them perfect for any calf size, and a cushioned insole promises hours of wear without feeling uncomfortable.

Dr. Scholl's Pearl Block Bootie

What we like
  • "High quality" materials
  • All-day wear and comfort
Something to note
  • Limited width options

Sizes: 6-11 | Widths: Medium | Colors: 2 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a cushioned insole, primarily fashioned out of algae

Dr. Scholl's aims to provide comfort in every pair of shoes they create, and this pair is no different. With an algae-infused cushioned footbed, the brand notes that these western-inspired booties will provide sustained comfort.

A podiatrist-approved brand, these boots can provide versatility, with reviewers noting they've walked miles in them, worn them to work and even a night out.

Kelly and Katie Elmonie Pump

What we like
  • Perfect heel size and height
  • "Fairly comfortable"
Something to note
  • Limited sizes and colors
  • Inconsistency with sizes

Sizes: 6-11 | Widths: Medium | Colors: 2 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes cushioning for the heel, as well as a cushioned footbed

These close-toed heels are perfect for cold winter nights out and about thanks to the suede fabric. The clasp ankle strap and block heel ensures feet remain stable and secure, while the padded heel cushioning adds comfort.

Crown Vintage Greeta Pump

What we like
  • "More support" than others
  • "Comfortable fit, great style"
Something to note
  • "Not made for wide feet"

Sizes: 6-11 | Widths: Medium | Colors: 2 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a padded footbed

With a clog-like silhouette, these chunky pumps will carry you through long nights, thanks to their padded footbed that promises cushioning, as well as the chunky block heel that ensures stability and security.

Comfortiva Faye Sandal

What we like
  • Heels are a "good height" 
  • Reviewers could wear them with "no issues" all day.
Something to note
  • Padded heel wore off; "not so comfortable" 

Sizes: 5-12 | Widths: Narrow, medium, wide, extra wide | Colors: 3 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a PillowTop memory foam footbed to provide cushioning.

It's hard not to fall for these sassy kicks, but our love for them only grew stronger when we read about how supportive they are. The sturdy sandals have an arch-friendly footbed that's cushioned with memory foam and a reasonable two-inch heel that won't leave your feet exhausted after a few minutes of walking. Plus, there's an adjustable strap so you can personalize the fit.

Orthofeet Emma Boots

What we like
  • "Easy to get on and off"
  • No break-in period
Something to note
  • Inconsistent sizes, widths

Sizes: 6-11 | Widths: Standard and wide | Colors: 4 | Cushioning/insole features: Includes a perforated foam layer of cushioning.

A pair of black booties is a wardrobe essential, and these ones offer comfort in spades with their orthotic insoles. Built-in arch support eases the pain associated with neuropathy and a padded interior also keeps irritation at bay. Other notable features include a spacious toe-box and a cushioned sole.

Meet the experts