What Are the Different Types of Orthopedic Shoes?

Nick Mann

Orthopedic shoes were designed for people with foot conditions or abnormalities. They help to alleviate pain not only in the feet, but in other areas of the body like the ankles, legs and back as well. There are several different types of orthopedic shoes available for varying situations and levels of pain. Some of the more common types include wide-fitting shoes; shoes with extra strong heels, padded tongues, or removable footpads; and shoes for fallen arches.

Orthopedic shoes might help prevent bunions.
Orthopedic shoes might help prevent bunions.

Wide-fitting orthopedic shoes tend to work well for people who experience toe pinching with normal shoes. Insufficient toe room can lead to discomfort and sometimes the development of bunions, blisters or hammertoe. Wide-fitting shoes give the toes with a little more wiggle room, which should provide an overall higher level of comfort. As a result, things like bunions, blisters and hammertoe are much less likely to occur.

An orthopedic healthcare provider looking at the X-ray of a patient with joint problems.
An orthopedic healthcare provider looking at the X-ray of a patient with joint problems.

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Orthopedic shoes with extra strong heels are primarily intended for people who need a little extra stability. Many senior citizens who have trouble walking and are prone to falls can benefit the most from these types of shoes. Extra strong heels will improve balance and posture while minimizing the risk of falling. This makes it safer for individuals with stability issues to walk around.

Wide-fitting shoes may help prevent blisters and other conditions.
Wide-fitting shoes may help prevent blisters and other conditions.

Shoes with padded tongues work well for people who routinely develop callouses and blisters on their feet. The extra cushion that padded tongues provide helps to reduce the amount of pressure placed on the tops and sides of the feet. Consequently, callouses and blisters are significantly less likely to develop.

For people experiencing foot swelling, shoes with removable footpads work well. Individuals who are on their feet throughout much of the day are usually the most susceptible to this. These orthopedics allow the individual to change footpads and customize their shoes on a daily basis to accommodate the level of swelling. Smaller footpads are used on days with more swelling and larger pads for days with less. This option ultimately helps to minimize pain and makes it much easier to move around.

Orthopedic shoes for fallen arches work well for people with flat feet. This condition can create pain and discomfort in the ankles and knees. Shoes for fallen arches make use of inserts that compensate for flat feet. In turn, the individual will gain a higher degree of stability which makes walking significantly safer and easier.

Shoe insoles.
Shoe insoles.

Discussion Comments


There are so many different types and styles of orthopedic shoes these days. I've even seen orthopedic sandals! Options used to be fewer before. I remember purchasing orthopedic shoes in my thirties for the first time for a fallen arch. There were only a few types of orthopedic shoes. They all looked fairly the same. They were white, and bulky. They looked like something in between exercise shoes and boots.


@bluedolphin-- Well, yes. One can't expect orthopedic shoes to be as stylish as regular shoes. Obviously, they're not going to be high heels with pointed toes. In order for a shoe to be orthopedic and comfortable, it does have to have a certain type of shape.

But there are definitely business orthopedic shoes that have a little of both worlds. They are comfortable and healthy, but they are also professional looking enough to wear to work.

If you stand on your feet for long hours and if you already have foot pain, I suggest switching to orthopedic shoes right away. You can even have one custom made for you. There are some manufacturers that offer this option. It will cost more but a pair good quality orthopedic shoes last many years.


I have to stand up on my feet all day for work. I probably should wear orthopedic shoes but I can't find one that's also stylish. How my attire and shoes look is important. And unfortunately, orthopedic shoes don't look very good.

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