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The best orthopedic shoes of 2024, according to experts

Tackle heel, foot, knee and back pain with the best orthopedic shoes for both men and women.

The best orthopedic shoes you can buy right now.
The best orthopedic shoes you can buy right now.

If you’re suffering from pain in your joints, the key to comfort could lie in a new pair of shoes. Healthy feet thrive in shoes that offer support and relief, and most shoe brands these days offer a stylish orthopedic shoe in their lineup. That means you can have the best of both worlds with features such as proper arch support and wide toe boxes while still being able to choose from a wide selection of color options, for example. And these shoes aren’t much more expensive than your average sneakers, so you won’t have to break the bank. Say goodbye to foot pain with the best orthopedic shoes recommended by our experts.

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Liza Egbogah, a chiropractor, osteopath and body and posture expert, tells Yahoo Life, “Orthopedic shoes are designed to support the feet, address specific foot disorders and provide comfort." The shoes are specially designed to help with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, neuromas, bunions, metatarsalgia, hammertoe, arthritis, knee pain, hip pain and back pain.

Before you rush out and purchase any old pair with the word "orthopedic" in the description, take a minute to browse our top picks. With Egbogah's guidance, we zeroed in on the best orthopedic shoes on the market today based on the types of foot conditions addressed, cost, style and actual user feedback. I also used my own knowledge as a credentialed health and fitness expert to assess the types of shoes and support needed to carry you through a wide range of daily activities. Get ready to be pleasantly surprised by how far orthopedic shoes have come to give us comfort, relief and, most of all, the style and support we all desperately want out of a shoe, orthopedic or not.

Best for: Plantar fasciitis, hammertoe, overpronation and bunions | Athletic style: Walking | Material: Leather | Colors available: White, yellow, gray, black | Sizes available: Women’s: 6-9 in whole and half sizes for 10, 11 (wide available); men’s: 8-13 whole sizes only (wide available)

Designed by one of New York's most prominent podiatrists, Nelya Lobkova, DPM, the Klaw 528 orthopedic shoe alleviates foot and joint issues caused by conditions such as hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, overpronation and bunions. The shoe offers a deep, supportive heel cup, medial and lateral arch support, and a rocker outsole — a feature Liza Egbogah tells us should always be found in a great orthotic shoe. The extensive cushioning in the midsole provides and maintains pain relief, especially for those who have plantar fasciitis.

The women’s Klaw 528 runs a bit wide, which is great for those with wide feet; however, the wider heel paired with the deep heel cup could lead to heel rubbing for those with narrow feet.

Pros
  • Heel-to-forefoot cushioning
  • Water-resistant leather
  • Firm arch support
Cons
  • Runs wide
  • Heavier shoe
$148 at Klaw

 

Best for: Dressy orthopedic arch support | Athletic style: Walking | Material: Leather | Colors available: Black, brown, navy (red available on Amazon) | Sizes available: 6-12 (no half sizes; wide available)

Traditionally, orthopedic shoes were designed for function, not fashion. These beautiful Dansko Fawna Mary Jane shoes are a great example of how far the once notoriously ugly shoes have come. The cult favorite Fawna shoe is made of soft stain-resistant leather, with removable EVA footbeds — a cushioned shock-absorbing material Egbogah recommends for absorbing the impact of each step you take — and special ergonomic insoles that provide cushioned arch support. 

How's that for getting the support your aching heels need, all while still looking fabulous?

While the Velcro closure may be easier for some to navigate than a clasp or snap, the Velcro may catch on clothing and could lose strength over time.

Pros
  • Cushioned insole
  • Contoured arch support
  • Classy and versatile
Cons
  • Stiff toe may be uncomfortable for some until broken in
  • Severe foot conditions may need more arch support
$140 at Amazon

Best for: Dressy orthopedic support | Athletic style: Walking | Material: Leather | Colors available: Seven options in various shades of black and brown with various sole colors | Sizes available: 6.5-11.5 in whole and half sizes, 12-16 (wide available)

Cole Haan Wingtip Oxford shoes drive home orthopedic-shoe function with dress-shoe elegance, thanks to Cole Haan's patented Grand OS cushioning technology, sturdy arch support and lightweight rubber outsoles. We really love the fact that these shoes offer that favorite tennis-shoe feel along with a polished dress-shoe look. The shoes are also orthotic-friendly, should you want to use a custom insole for one foot or both feet. With so many colors available, congratulations: You can officially say goodbye to painful dress shoes. Forever. 

Pros
  • Cushioned comfort
  • Exceptionally high-quality materials
  • Lightweight athletic feel with a polished look
Cons
  • May run narrow
  • Stiff and will take time to break in
$115 at Amazon
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$150 at Zappos$170 at Macy's

Best for: Plantar fasciitis, heel pain, shock absorption | Athletic style: Walking, running | Material: Synthetic | Colors available: 16+ | Sizes available: Women’s: 5-10.5 in whole and half sizes, 11-12 (wide available); men’s: 7-12.5 in whole and half sizes, 13-16 (wide and X-wide available)

Hoka's Bondi 8 not only provides the highest level of cushioning the brand offers and has been upgraded with a more stable, extended heel, but the shoe also features three of Egbogah’s recommendations when choosing orthopedic shoes: a wide toe box, shock-absorbing soles with materials like EVA to cushion each step and a rocker sole to minimize pressure points when walking. One tester said he had "horribly painful diabetic feet," including experiencing pain while he was sitting. He reported that the Bondi 8 shoes were "life-changing," providing comfort and stability to the point he is walking around the block nightly. He added that now his wife and 11-year-old son each has a pair.

The Bondi 8 has ​the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, which recognizes products that benefit foot health. 

Pros
  • Plush EVA cushioning
  • Rocker sole for correct gait
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Clunky look and feel
  • Not stable enough for strength training or hiking
$165 at Hoka

Best for: Extra arch and heel support while pounding the pavement | Athletic style: Running | Material: Mesh, rubber | Colors available: 5 (women); 3 (men) | Sizes available: Women’s: 5.5-11 in whole and half sizes; men’s: 7-11.5 whole and half sizes, 12

If you’re searching for a deeply cushioned yet stable and responsive running shoe, the Puma Deviate Nitro 2 is for you. The shoe features extra foam cushioning in the midsole to minimize joint impact while still propelling you forward — as all good running shoes should. The impressive 6mm heel-to-toe drop makes for an easy transition with each stride, while the engineered carbon plate provides stability. The shoe is durable, breathable and reflective for early and late runs, and it offers real grip for ultimate road safety. 

The Deviate's wider-than-average toe box (96.3mm) provides comfortable space for those with toe issues, yet is not so wide that it causes chafing or blisters.

Pros
  • Plush cushioning
  • Carbon plate for stabilization
  • Rocker sole
Cons
  • Heavier than some competitors
  • Limited color options
$160 at Puma
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$160 at DICK'S

Best for: Plantar fasciitis, heel pain, knee pain, travel, | Athletic style: Walking | Material: Foam, mesh, rubber | Colors available: 6 | Sizes available: 5-9.5 in whole and half sizes, 10-12 (Amazon carries only whole sizes)

Oofos OOmg slip-on sneakers reduce compressive forces on your joints, making them ideal for those with back pain. The OOmg shoes provide exceptional arch support, absorb impact and rebound slowly to soothe joints and muscles after a long day on your feet. The entire line of Oofos shoes has the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. This company knows how to make a great orthopedic shoe, including orthopedic flip-flops and slides.

The brand recommends going up by a half size for the best fit. The OOmg Recovery Shoe is out of stock on the Oofos website, but OOmg Eezee Low Shoe is similar and in stock in whole and half sizes.

Pros
  • Highly cushioned foam
  • Easy slip-on design
  • Arch support specifically for back and joints
Cons
  • Run about a half size small for most
  • Top may be too tight for some
$139 at Amazon
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$140 at Zappos

Best for: Plantar fasciitis, pronation, full-body alignment | Athletic style: Walking | Material: Leather | Colors available: White; cream white | Sizes available: 5-9.5 in whole and half sizes; 10-13 (wide available)

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is a painful inflammatory condition that causes excruciating pain in your heel and arch. Having high arches and incorrect pronation and wearing shoes that aren’t supportive enough can all further exacerbate PF. Vionic makes shoes that truly combat the painful condition, thanks to its patented VIO Motion technology that corrects pronation and promotes full-body alignment. The cult favorite Vionic Karmelle Oxford Casual Sneakers provide the alignment, comfort, arch support and the shock-absorbing cushioning it takes to overcome PF.

Men can find the same comfort and casual style with the Vionic Men's Walker shoe.

Pros
  • Corrects pronation that causes plantar fasciitis
  • EVA foam cushioning
  • Arch support
Cons
  • Limited colors
$140 at Amazon

Best for: Bunions, hammertoe and pinched nerves | Athletic style: Walking, cross training | Material: Mesh | Colors available: 11 | Sizes available: 5-12 in whole and half sizes (wide available)

Kuru's Atom Athletic Sneaker prevents and relieves pain, thanks to extra cushioning in the heel and midsole, exceptional arch support and a deep heel cup that hugs your foot and prevents slippage. The wide toe box's anatomical fit helps prevent issues such as bunions, hammertoe and pinched nerves — conditions that can be more common for those with wide feet. The shoe's breathable mesh design works well to keep feet cool and dry during workouts, walks and everyday wear.

Pros
  • Arch-supporting insoles
  • Plush cushioning in heel and midsole
  • Deep heel cup and wide toe box
Cons
  • May take time to break in
$160 at Kuru

Orthopedic shoe type: Diabetic | Athletic style: Walking | Material: Synthetic | Colors available: Gray, black, blue | Sizes available: 7-11.5 in whole and half sizes, 12-15 (available in standard, wide, X-wide and XX-wide)

Diabetic nerve damage that occurs in the feet is known as peripheral neuropathy (PN) and can cause a tingling sensation through the foot and a feeling of walking on pins and needles. (OUCH!) Alternatively, PN can cause the loss of pain sensation in the feet, which can lead to sores, calluses, injuries and infection if left untreated. Studies show that wearing the correct footwear reduces the likelihood of developing these issues. 

Orthofeet’s Edgewater Stretch shoe provides everything a person with diabetes should look for in a shoe: made with antimicrobial materials, superior orthotic insoles with adjustable arch support, loads of comfortable cushioning, the ever-important rocker sole and a nonfriction inner lining that prevents sores and infections. 

Orthofeet’s Edgewater Stretch shoes are available in four widths, so you can find the ideal fit to relieve pain and prevent complications from neuropathy or other foot conditions.

Pros
  • Orthotic insoles with adjustable arch support
  • Additional heel padding
  • Soft nonirritating inner liner
Cons
  • May not be grippy enough for wet days
$105 at Amazon

Sizes: Women's 6-14 with half sizes; men's 4-16 with half sizes

If you're experiencing sticker shock from how much a pair of orthopedic shoes cost, you could try starting with a simple orthotic shoe insole. Walk-Hero's orthotics are particularly great because the insoles feature a deep heel cup, EVA shock absorption and arch support. Something else that is pretty spectacular is the nearly 38,000 five-star Amazon reviews. These insoles work by removing your shoe's existing insoles and replacing them with the orthotic insole. 

These insoles can be a great inexpensive first line of defense before spending money on orthopedic shoes, though, if you are in severe, chronic pain, a visit to your doctor should be your true first line of defense.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Highly rated
  • Can be moved from one shoe to the next if compatible with insoles
Cons
  • Not as robust as an orthopedic shoe
  • May have to trim the insoles to fit in your shoe
$20 at Amazon

Sock styles: No-show; crew; full calf | Sizes: Men's and women's S-XL

Yahoo's health editor is always singing the praises of the OS1st brand of compression and sports socks. The company specializes in high-quality, medical-grade socks for just about every foot condition (plantar fasciitis, bunion, diabetic and others). The FS4 plantar fasciitis socks are designed with OS1st's patented Compression Zone Technology®, antibacterial fabric and Y-Gore heel for anatomical shape, including a left/right design for a great fit (a little R/L at the toe of the sock lets you know which foot). 

$25 at Amazon
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$24 at Holabird Sports
  • Fit: Ensuring the correct fit is vital for comfort and, most of all, pain relief. Shoes that are too big or wide can lead to slipping, poor gait and chafing. Pro tip: Measure your feet at the end of the day when your feet are generally their biggest due to fluid settling.

  • Cushioned sole: A well-cushioned sole will relieve the impact on the joints, feet and back for less compressive force and pain. However, a firm arch support is vital for those with painful conditions such as plantar fasciitis.

  • Toe box: A wide toe box prevents issues such as pinched nerves, bunions and hammertoe, thanks to being more anatomically correct. As a general rule, you should always look for shoes with a wide-enough toe box to suit your feet.

  • Cost: Though budget is normally the driving force behind most purchases, orthopedic shoes are not cheap, so it's essential you weigh construction and cost to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck and a well-made shoe that will last.

  • Style: Even though today's orthopedic shoes don't sacrifice fashion for function, you should still look for a pair that you can wear with your overall wardrobe, including your work clothes and casual wear, to ensure you get the most use out of the shoe. Orthopedic running shoes are great, but can you wear them regularly with your wardrobe?

We researched 36 top-rated orthopedic shoes in various styles and price points — shoes offering pain relief, arch support and superior cushioning while also ensuring each pair is aligned with our expert’s recommendations for the features the best orthopedic shoes should possess. We then further narrowed the list based on price versus quality, accessibility, style, sizes and colors offered, and, of course, those that received glowing customer reviews. Finally, we consulted with experts to ensure our final list of winners was, in fact, a roundup of the very best orthopedic shoes.

Being that we tested so many orthopedic shoes, there were some that we really liked but didn't make the cut. The Kuru Atom slip-on was an exceptional shoe, but it was edged out of the winning spot only by the Kuru Atom due to many feeling they felt more stability in a shoe you tie, not slip into. That said, if you are looking for an athletic slip-on shoe, the Kuru Atom Slip-on is for you! The Allbirds Tree Flyer 2 was another exceptional walking shoe with great traction, stability and support; we were just concerned that the extra spring-y step would make people feel a little disconnected in their stride. However, if you love a spring-y shoe, then the Allbirds Tree Flyer 2 is for you! As we all know, Birkenstock makes great shoes, but did you know the company makes top-notch orthopedic shoes? The new Deep Blue footbed design featured in its lace-up Honnef High ankle boots is incredibly impressive with a four-part footbed with moisture-wicking microfiber liner, cork and jute layers for optimum arch support and a PU base for added shock absorption and forefoot cushioning. We just felt the price point of $240, while worth it, was a little too high for a top spot. That said, if you are looking for a street-ready ankle boot you can walk for miles and miles in, then Birkenstock's Honnef High Oiled Nubuck Leather boot is for you.

If you are an overpronator (your foot rolls in when you’re walking) or have ever suffered from any degree of foot, knee, hip or back pain, you would likely benefit from orthopedic shoes. Egbogah adds, “If you find it uncomfortable to walk barefoot, that’s also a good indicator that you need more support, and orthopedic shoes can provide just that."

According to Egbogah, orthopedic shoes are designed to help with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, neuromas, bunions, metatarsalgia, hammertoe, arthritis, knee pain, hip pain and back pain. Orthopedic shoes can also prevent issues like pinched nerves, thanks to the wide toe box. The shoes can also help prevent and treat osteoarthritis. “Osteoarthritis is essentially wear and tear on the joints, and this can be slowed down by wearing supportive footwear that improves alignment," says Egbogah.

Orthotics are inserts you can put into most shoes. You can either buy orthotics through a retailer or have a podiatrist custom make one or a set for you. “Orthopedic shoes work to correct gait — the way we walk, provide support for your arches and improve overall alignment so that your body can function better,” says Egbogah. Put simply: Orthotics are an insert and only one part of the puzzle, while orthopedic shoes offer 360-degree support from the inside of the shoe to the outside sole. “With features such as orthotic insoles and rocker soles, our body functions more efficiently and endures less wear and tear,” Egbogah says.

Orthopedic shoes provide shock-absorbing cushioning to protect your joints and reduce pain, arch support to ward off plantar fasciitis and a wide toe box to prevent bunions and hammertoe. And, as a whole, the shoes improve overall alignment so that your body can function better, thanks to an optimal gait. According to Egbogah, “Orthopedic shoes address movement dysfunctions that lead to foot problems and can also be used proactively to slow down the degeneration of weight-bearing joints in our body.”