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When the shoe is on the other foot…

By Melanie E. Swan, OTR/L

Do I need special shoes because I have CRPS?
You should consult with your therapist or physician to determine whether specific footwear is beneficial. If there are underlying orthopedic issues or other medical considerations, such as diabetes or nerve damage, your physician or therapist may recommend orthotic or custom footwear. If there are no underlying conditions to consider, you may have many options for footwear.

Should I look for a specific kind of shoes?
In general, footwear should be comfortable, supportive, and the appropriate size for your foot. If you need to be on your feet, walking or standing frequently, you might select shoes with extra padding or cushion in the sole and good arch support. If you are unsure how to choose appropriate shoes, you can consult your therapist or a trained salesperson at a specialty shoe store. Footwear should also be appropriate for the environment you are in-wearing sandals outdoors in very cold weather may put you at risk for frostbite!

CRPS causes my foot to swell, making it hard to keep a shoe on, what can I do?
You should consult with your therapist or physician to determine if compression garments, such as Jobst stockings, would be appropriate to help manage the swelling. Your therapist can also show you some exercises and/or self-massage techniques to manage the edema. You may also be more comfortable in supportive footwear made of supple material, such as canvas, elasticized fabric, or soft leather.

When I wear shoes my foot becomes more painful and I have to take my right shoe off after a short time. I need to wear closed toe shoes at work. What should I do?
If you have not been wearing shoes regularly since the onset of your CRPS symptoms, your foot may have become sensitive to being enclosed in a shoe. Wearing a shoe for short periods of time, gradually increasing the frequency and duration may be part of your desensitization program. You may begin by wearing a slipper or less restrictive shoe-such as canvas sandals-and progress toward a more supportive gym shoe or dress shoe as your tolerance for footwear improves. Your therapist can develop an appropriate wearing schedule/routine to help you progress to shoes that will meet your needs.

Melanie E. Swan, OTR/L is a Resource Clinician at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago , Chronic Pain Care Center, 1030 N. Clark Street, Suite 647, Chicago, IL 60610