Whether it’s strolling around the block, traveling to work on foot, or simply wandering through a forest, walking is one of the simplest pleasures life affords us.
But for the more than 20 million people in the United States, neuropathy makes walking difficult. If you find you’re unable to feel your feet sometime after walking, experience sudden pain that feels like electrical currents, and walk with wobbly motion, you might have neuropathy.
While neuropathy is unfortunately common, the condition shouldn’t make you sit at home. You can continue strolling around life as you normally would — you’ll need the right shoes to make it happen.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Choice: Nike Air Monarch IV
- Best Premium Product: Gravity Defyer Proven Pain Relief
- Best Value Product: Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe
For a more in-depth review, and to get the nitty-gritty of how neuropathy works, keep reading.
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition that involves some damage to the peripheral nervous system.
The nervous system is the extensive communication system in your body. When you’re holding a hot cup of tea, for example, it’s the nerves in your hand sending signals to your brain that the cup is too hot to hold and that you should change your hand placement. The system is connected throughout all parts of your body, convening in the spinal cord and heading up to the brain.
The nervous system is also what tells your muscles to move, how much to move, and where to move. And different commands outside of your control tell your blood vessels to contract or expand. Overall, the peripheral nervous system is like the complex wiring system in your body. When some of those wires are damaged, the computer doesn’t work as it should.
What Causes Neuropathy?
The number one cause of neuropathy is bodily injury or trauma to the nerve region. Car accidents, sports, bad falls, and medical procedures can harm nerves and their functioning.
However, it doesn’t just have to be direct damage to the nerve to cause neuropathy. A broken or dislocated bone can put pressure on the surrounding nerves, like a dislocated disc among the vertebrae can and squeeze nerves in the spinal cord.
Arthritis also puts prolonged pressure on nerves, as well as repetitive, forceful motions causing ligaments or tendons to swell. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of neuropathy caused by such actions.
For neuropathy in your feet, contact a podiatrist to see if the pain you experience while walking could be from past physical injuries to your legs or feet.
Diabetes is the next leading cause of neuropathy in the United States. About 60-70% of people living with diabetes have some impairment in the sensory (feeling that the floor is cold), autonomic (your blood vessels constrict when it’s cold), or motor nerves (slipping your feet into slippers).
Because people with diabetes tend to have a harder time regulating their blood glucose levels, elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream can damage nerves. Neuropathy caused by diabetes can cause numbness, burning sensation, tingling, or bands of pain to flare up in your feet and go all the way up to the pelvis.
Diabetes-caused neuropathy can also lead to cramps, increased sensitivity when touched (some people feel the weight of a bedsheet as too much), muscle weakness, loss of balance and coordination, loss of reflexes (which usually affects the ankle in particular), and, in severe cases, bone and joint pain, infections, and ulcers.
Chemotherapy drugs or treatment to treat cancer cause neuropathy in 30% – 40% of users. Not all people undergoing chemotherapy develop neuropathy, though, as it’s only certain drugs that cause nerve damage. Radiation therapy, though, has been shown to damage nerves.
Chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatment can cause nerve damage to the last months or years after the initial treatment. And infections can also strike nerve fibers and cause neuropathy.
Some autoimmune diseases cause the body to think its own nerves are a disease that needs to be attacked. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome are such conditions that lead to nerve damage.
While the autoimmune diseases may damage the nerves directly, they can harm nerves indirectly as well. The disease may attack the surrounding tissue outside the nerve and cause the muscle to put pressure on the nerve fibers.
An estimated 30% of people with HIV develop some peripheral neuropathy.
If you’ve developed unexplained chronic pain, it’s possible that you could have a nerve-attacking autoimmune disease.
Other Causes of Neuropathy
- Hormone imbalances that cause tissues to swell and press on peripheral nerves.
- Disorders in the kidney or liver that make them fail to remove toxic substances in the blood. The high amount of toxic elements can damage nerve tissue. Lots of people on dialysis have nerve damage because of kidney failure.
- Alcoholism, nutritional or vitamin imbalance, or regular exposure to toxins that can hurt the nerves, causing neuropathy. A lack of vitamin B12 and excess vitamin B6 are common vitamin-related causes of neuropathy.
- Tumors that press on the nerves, damaging them or hindering their function.
- Viral or bacterial infections, such as the varicella-zoster virus, West Nile, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex, that target sensory fibers. Lyme disease also causes neuropathic symptoms within weeks of infection.
How to Know if You Have Neuropathy?
Symptoms of neuropathy can be characterized in the following ways. If you notice them in yourself, you might be developing neuropathy.
Loss of Sensation in Your Legs or Feet
Do your feet feel more numb than they used to be? If you rub your finger on your foot, would it feel more dull and distant than if you rubbed the back of your hand?
Since the nerves are crucial to sensing pressure on your skin, loss of sensation is a significant sign of nerve damage.
A good test to see if you have sensation loss is to ask a close friend or loved one to draw letters or patterns on the bottom of your foot without you looking. If you can’t feel what they draw, you might experience neuropathy.
Foot pain is a normal part of life if there’s a reason your feet are sore. Long walks, strenuous exercise, cramps, and tight, pinching shoes can all explain the reasons behind foot pain.
However, a feeling of shooting, electrical pain is not normal, and neither is a constant burning sensation. If you feel these, consider changing your shoes to see if they make a difference in your foot pain. For those who don’t want to pay for new shoes, consider buying shoe inserts.
Neuropathic pain tends to worsen at night. If your shooting or burning pain happens after hours, signs point to neuropathy. In rare cases, the nerve endings in your feet can become too sensitized, known as allodynia. It causes even the weight of a blanket covering your feet to feel unbearable.
Notice how your feet feel. If they experience any of the above sensations, tell your doctor immediately.
Weak Foot Muscles
Get up and push yourself up so that you’re standing on the tips of your toes (like when children try to feel taller). How long can you last on your toes? If you can’t make it to ten, that indicates there could be an issue with the muscles in your feet.
In addition, if you find you’re more clumsy or prone to accidents than you were before, you could have early signs of motor nerve damage because of neuropathy. Loss of balance and foot drop while walking, leading to numerous instances of stumbling, are common symptoms of neuropathy.
The muscles in your feet may also involuntarily twitch, and you can notice a substantial loss of tone in your feet. While the loss of foot dexterity can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as a cerebral stroke, a gradual worsening of foot function is usually due to neuropathy.
Notice Skin and Nail Changes
More advanced neuropathy leads to autonomic nerve damage in your skin, causing it to sweat less. The less moisture in your skin may sound like a good thing, as it could mean your shoes smell less odorous, but the lack of moisture could cause the skin on your feet to look brittle or flaky. Your toenails could also look dry and cracked as if they’re infected with fungus.
If your diabetes causes arterial concomitant arterial disease, the skin on your lower leg can turn dark brown because of restricted blood flow. Additional color changes can affect your feet, such as changing the texture of your skin to look smoother or shinier than it was previously.
Is Neuropathy Curable?
If the neuropathy is caused by physical injury or trauma, the patient may recover over years of healing and physical therapy. The recovery process is facilitated if the patient is younger, such as before 25 years old. Older victims of physical injury might have to take longer, but nerves tend to heal slowly in healthy people not affected by serious illness.
For those with diabetes or other diseases, neuropathy is not curable. Instead, you have to take measures to mitigate further nerve damage.
The best way to help your feet is to do the following:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet. Your body needs the best fuel to heal itself consistently. If the food you eat is high in sugars and otherwise fails to allow your body to heal, consider changing your diet to a healthier one.
- Regular exercise. Exercise has a myriad of health benefits, such as reducing depression, losing weight, help build strong muscles and bones, improve energy levels, and can it can facilitate proper nerve and muscle functioning. If you want to restrengthen the muscles in your feet or legs, consider exercising a few times a week.
- Avoid repetitive motions. An estimated eight million people living in the United States develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome every year. Carpal Tunnel is nerve damage caused by repetitive hand motions, such as typing, chopping, drawing, and more.Repetitive motions, such as tapping your foot, could also damage the nerves in your foot if you’re already susceptible to neuropathy. It would be best to stop repetitive motions or practice proper posture when, say, typing on a keyboard for maximum nervous system health.
- Manage neuropathy-causing conditions. Alcoholism and poorly controlled diabetes can cause toxic substances (ethanol and glucose, respectively) to damage the nerves in your legs.As much as you can, find ways to mitigate the harm your condition does to your body. If it means going into rehab and reducing how many drinks you have or finding better technology to manage diabetic symptoms, so be it. Your nerves heal incredibly slow if at all, their health should be at an utmost priority.
- Buy proper shoes for neuropathy. One of the best ways to manage your neuropathy afflicting your feet is to buy shoes best suited for people with your condition. Below are some of the best ones we’ve found.
Read Also: Best Shoes to Wear After Foot Surgery
Best Shoes for Neuropathy Review
The shoes you wear can make a huge difference in how well you maneuver your neuropathy. Below are the ones you should consider getting for nerve damage caused by, among other reasons, diabetes, chemotherapy, and physical trauma.
These sleek, stylish shoes not only look good but help alleviate much of the pain associated with neuropathy. The padded, synthetic soles are soft. The toe box provides enough space to press down too hard on your foot, meaning no further pressure to exacerbate existing nerve damage.
Not only are the shoes comfortable for everyday use, but they look sleek and stylish as well. You can choose from a variety of colors, so there’s always a shoe to match everyone’s personality or wardrobe.
Those with neuropathy have said that Skechers Woman’s Go Walking Shoe have been some of the most comfortable shoes they’ve worn in a long time — since they’ve gotten their condition.
The reason could be due to the shaft of the shoe providing enough space for your arches. Other shoes are too rigid and force your foot to conform to its shape — which is not good at all for your sensitive feet. Instead, the shoe’s flexible fabric conforms to your foot, meaning all-day comfort, even while heavily walking.
The shoes are lightweight and flexible, so your feet won’t get sore while wearing them. The synthetic sole is durable but won’t bog you down after hours on your feet. The fabric is also breathable as well, so you don’t have to worry about smelly shoes ruining your day in addition to neuropathy flare-ups.
The Responsive 5Gen cushioning creates a pillow for your feet to walk on, so the casing is not rigid enough to cause sores on the bottom of your feet.
The Goga Max high rebound insole is perhaps what makes these shoes so comfortable for those suffering from neuropathy. The insole is responsive yet high, meaning you get lots of cushion for such a lightweight, comfortable shoe.
Put back the spring in your step with Skechers Woman’s Go Walking Shoe. They’re a well-designed shoe, especially suitable for those with neuropathy in their legs and feet.
- These shoes have a sleek, business-casual look.
- High insole cushions the foot and reduces neuropathy pain.
- The heel is too wide for some users.
- Some found inconsistent sizing among the colored shoes.
For a more masculine version of the Skechers Go Walk 4, consider this shoe from Skechers.
Skechers is the award-winning leader in footwear and offers high-quality shoes for trend-savvy people everywhere. The Men’s Go Walk 4 is no different, as it is still the latest, innovative athletic yet casual fashion sneaker for everyone to enjoy — but particularly those suffering from neuropathy in their feet and legs.
The rubber sole is strong and reliable, so it can handle whatever you throw at it. All of Skechers’ shoes have air-cooled memory foam insoles for maximum comfort. The padded bottoms mean your feet have less pressure pushing on them, benefiting the stressed nerve fibers in your feet.
Most men want sneakers that get the job done, while others want more fashionable sneakers. The Men’s Go Walk 4 from Skechers provides the best of both worlds, providing not only aesthetically pleasing shoes but ones that are slip-resistant, and suitable for hard work.
For those who want to get up and head out the door without delay, the slip-on nature of the shoe means you don’t have to worry about laces pressing down on your feet. Just get them on, and you’re ready to go.
If you wear these shoes for a while and happen to get them dirty, cleaning them is a breeze. The company doesn’t recommend washing them in a machine. Instead, remove the excess dirt with a soft brush or towel. Then get a bowl of soapy water by combining warm water with a few drops of laundry detergent.
Dip the towel or brush into the mixture and wipe down the affected area. Rinse the shoe with warm water and allow it to air dry. Your Skechers Men’s Go Walk 4 will look as good as the day you got them, meaning a long life for this affordable shoe to manage your neuropathy.
- The pillow-like cushion means less pressure harming your feet.
- Non-slip rubber sole reduces the chance of falling and further damaging the nerves in your legs.
- Some users found a narrower toe design than other Go Walk models, so inconsistent sizing among models.
- A few users discovered the shoe pinches their toes a little bit.
According to Nike, “Get the royal treatment every time you train” with a pair of Air Monarch IV. If you want to not only look fashionable but feel comfortable with your neuropathy, consider getting these classic Nikes.
The shoes are made from leather and parts of the mesh. The leather overlay provides peak support and durability, and there is a heel tab to make pulling the shoes off quick and easy.
The Nike Air Monarch IV internal fabric is also designed for maximum comfort, with enough cushion to not press too hard on your feet. The mesh tongue facilitates breathability, and the full-length phylon midsole makes the whole shoe light while still properly cushioning.
The air-sole unit provides a little pep in your step, putting less tension on your joints, muscles, and nerves with each step. Each step is like a smooth ride. The outsoles protect your toes and enhance durability as well, making each shoe not only a fashion statement but a commitment to your health and wellbeing.
The flex-grooves outside the shoe provide flexibility, and the hybrid outsole gives you pivot-point traction on numerous surfaces, which will lessen clumsiness that your neuropathy induces. The bottoms of the shoes won’t leave marks should you accidentally skid your shoes across a surface.
- Elegant, classic Nike design.
- This shoe has lots of cushions to alleviate nerve pressure.
- The shoe includes non-skid, hard rubber soles, and external stitching for maximum flexibility.
- The laces are a bit short, so it’s hard to tie them.
- The material around the ankles are a bit stiff and can rub against your skin.
Clarks Women’s Ashland Loafers invite you to experience the ultimate comfort with their combination of the cushioned footpad, underfoot cushioning, and the breathable Ortholite footbed.
The cushion pad is the pad your foot will rest directly on. It has a targeted plush feel that strips away excess pressure on your feet. Those with neuropathy find that these shoes look fashionable and sporty but have a certain softness you wouldn’t expect with such sandals.
The breathable Ortholite footbed rests directly under the cushion pad. As its name suggests, the breathable Ortholite footbed not only pads the bottom of your feet but ensures they don’t get sweaty.
There’s a lot of insulation in this shoe, which means the protection could quickly turn hot and uncomfortable for your feet. The breathable Ortholite pad helps ensure your feet don’t get too hot while wearing this shoe.
And the last bit of cushioning this foot has is underfoot cushioning. It’s the third pad that further bolsters the truth behind the following statement: even if your neuropathy flares up, these shoes will still be comfortable to wear.
The shoes are made from 100% leather, so they not only feel good on your feet but look good to outside viewers. Clarks Women’s Ashland Loafers have a timeless design that’s not only elegant but classy, meaning you can wear these shoes at a variety of functions.
- This shoe has a triple pad that ensures maximum cushioning for your feet.
- It is made from 100% leather.
- Clarks Women’s loafer has an elegant yet casual design that can be worn at different events.
- The straps are tight out of the box.
- The insole is not removable.
- This shoe lacks arch support.
Some people who experience particularly severe neuropathy, such as those with allodynia, might not like wearing shoes with laces. They need slip-on shoes that give their feet space not to feel anything touch it and the parts of the shoe that do touch the feet better be cushioned and soft.
Luckily, the Skechers Women’s Microburst One-Up Sneaker provides the best of both worlds. It’s not only a fashionable sneaker, looking more like a cute pair of flats than a pair of sneakers, but they also provide incredible support for those with neuropathy.
The shoes consist of air-cooled memory foam — the kind of technology perfected by the Skechers company. The Burst Compound lower profile midsole helps reduce the impact on your feet, meaning less stress entering your overall foot.
Since the company’s inception in 1992, Skechers has been vastly improving the lives of consumers everywhere with their high-quality, durable shoes. The Women’s Microburst One-Up sneaker is no different.
These shoes are lightweight and have a rubber sole, meaning it will reduce your chance of falling if your neuropathy makes you clumsy. For a shoe that not only helps you manage your neuropathy but looks aesthetically pleasing, consider the Skechers Microburst One-Up Sneaker.
- This shoe has a padded cushion that helps people with neuropathy manage their condition.
- Fashionable design.
- The Skechers Microburst One-up is a lightweight shoe with a rubber sole — perfect for those who have developed clumsiness.
- Some users report the shoe rubs on the back of their feet.
- The shoe runs large.
The Skechers Men’s Afterburn Memory-Foam Lace-up Sneaker is another shoe that looks good on the wearer but helps reduce the pain of neuropathy.
This shoe is made from three distinct parts: leather up top, synthetic material, and mesh fabric upper body. All of this means the shoe looks good but helps keep you cool on hotter days.
The sporty sneaker has perforated details, stitching, and overlay accents for aesthetics, as well as a padded collar and tongue for comfort. In addition, the shoe has a memory foam insole that helps keep off some of the maximum pressure you can put on your feet, redistributing that pressure to stronger parts of your body.
The Articu-Lyte, high-traction rubber sole reduces slipping, and the added one and a half inches of the heel gives you a slight boost in height. The eyelets are made of metal, making lacing a breeze, and the whole shoe is made from durable, lightweight material that means you can wear these shoes for years to come.
For those who want to feel comfortable in their shoes but also look stylish, try on a pair of Skechers Men’s Afterburn Memory-Foam Lace-up Sneaker to see how you feel.
- These shoes have high-traction rubber soles that reduce the chance of slipping.
- Soft memory foam insole feels comfortable if you have neuropathy.
- Affordable, durable, and long-lasting shoe.
- Suitable for walking, but may tear if put through extreme stress.
- May have to glue together parts of the shoe after some time wearing them.
This dapper slip-on leather shoe is the Braver Rayland from Skechers. It is made from a leather upper with striking stitch accents, as well as side panels for added flexibility. If you’re worried about your range of motion, these shoes have all the bendability you need to maneuver comfortably.
The collar is padded, so your ankles are protected from wear. The midsole absorbs the shock of each step you take, so it reduces the tension you put on your nerves. Best of all, the insoles are made from Skechers Gel Infused memory foam, making every step feel like you’re walking on a cloud.
The rubber sole outer sole has lots of traction, making this shoe slip-resistant. If you’re worried about the satisfaction of your feet after developing neuropathy, the Skechers Braver Rayland is the right shoe that’s not only functionally smart for those suffering from neuropathy but the fashionable choice for public use as well.
- The shoes are made from fine leather outer material, strong stitching, and a soft memory foam insole.
- Durable, slip-resistant sole with moderate arch support.
- Budget-friendly while high-quality — these shoes will last you.
- Customers report bad customer service with Skechers.
- Some users report tearing along the seams after heavy use.
For a durable pair of shoes perfect for those with neuropathy, consider getting a pair of Dr. Scholl’s Brisk Strap Sneaker for Men. You have an option between all black or all white models when purchasing online.
The outer part of the shoe is made from faux leather and mesh, meaning they involve no harm to animals but help keep your feet fresh as well. The dual strap closures are great for those who don’t want to fumble with laces, especially if your neuropathy makes wearing laces uncomfortable.
The air-pillow gel insoles, though, are where these shoes shine. The insoles cushion the bottom of your feet while absorbing some of the pressure from each step. Your feet don’t carry the brunt of tension caused by each step, which is what makes these shoes so great for people with neuropathy.
The lightweight shoe is affordable, functional, and long-lasting. If you want to protect the nerves in your feet, don’t waste your time with shoes that are uncomfortable and don’t provide enough padding. Dr. Scholl’s Brisk Strap Sneaker for Men is the pair of shoes you should be wearing instead.
- The dual strap closures make putting on and taking off these shoes a breeze.
- The internal air-pillow gel insoles protect your feet from the shock and tension of every step.
- Cheap yet long-lasting shoes that are great for people with neuropathy.
- Depending on the width of your shoes, the velcro-V can hang over the attachable side, making it annoying to wear sometimes.
- Some users report the seams tearing after wearing these shoes for some time.
For rugged work shoes that also double as casual footwear — and all the while helping you manage your neuropathy — consider the Brooks Addiction Walker V-Strap Sneaker for men.
The upper part of the shoe is entirely made from full-grain leather, so these shoes not only function well for people with nerve damage in their feet but look good also.
The shoes are specifically designed to help those with low arches get support, as well as keeping pronation under control. But because of the soft internal padding and orthotic design, these shoes greatly benefit those with neuropathy in their legs or feet.
The outer soles resist slipping, and the entire shoe is durable and supportive. Finding the right shoe when you have painful neuropathy is crucial to enjoying life. If you want to get up and enjoy walking like you used to, try on the Brooks Addiction Walker V-Strap Sneaker for men.
- This shoe is made from full leather on the outer parts and soft cushioned inner soles.
- Durable slip-resistant soles keep the chance of falling low.
- V-strap closures take the hassle out of putting on and taking off these shoes.
- Some users find the velcro straps are too short.
- Others find the toe box is too loose.
You’ll be anything but slow when you wear these shoes. The Slow Man Women’s Walking Shoes Sock Sneakers are the great shoe to wear if you suffer from neuropathy.
The top of the shoe is comprised of mesh fabric, so your feet will remain breathable while staying comfortable. These shoes are great for people who live in a variety of climates — hot, cold, or a mix of the two, these shoes will keep your feet at a nice temperature. You’ll never feel like they’re burning up or way too cold.
These shoes are super lightweight and can fit thick wool socks for winter wearing or thin socks when it’s starting to get warm out again. The material is flexible and durable — it will be able to handle what you can throw at it. Whether you’re walking around the neighborhood or doing yard work, these will survive.
The high-quality rubber material prevents slips and thus falls, which is precisely what you need if neuropathy is causing muscle atrophy in your feet.
The perforated arches not only provide ample arch support but ventilate the shoe as well, further adding to the shoe’s overall breathability. The cushion design, though, is what takes the cake for the shoe’s neuropathy support. Not only will your feet be cool and supported, but the cushion makes you feel like you’re always walking on a cloud.
The Slow Man Women’s Walking Sock Sneakers are great for daily casual use, so that you can wear them around your home, at work, in a dance class, or when you want to stroll around the neighborhood. For an affordable pair of shoes that feel great if you have neuropathy, check out the Slow Man Women’s Walking Sock Sneakers
- Lightweight and soft.
- Cushioned, so they’re perfect for those with neuropathy.
- Since they’re so breathable, they might be too cold on your feet.
- Some users note less arch support than the company promises.
The Gravity Defyer Mighty Walk have lots of colors to choose from online. Not only that, but they are patented shoes designed to give your feet maximum comfort.
VersoShock Technology is a patented system that absorbs shock from every step you take, putting that energy into the next action you take. The seamless interior is designed for people with diabetic neuropathy and sensitive feet so that it prevents irritation.
If you want, you can remove the insoles and place your orthotic support. There’s extra room in the toe box in case you have bunions, or you want some more wiggle room. The front rocker has a supported midfoot to help relieve those with foot pain.
- Well-designed for those with foot issues.
- Soft insole with seamless stitching is perfect for those with neuropathy.
- Durable, high-quality shoe.
- The shoe scuffs easily.
You’ve seen the list, and we’re going to narrow down all the shoes we’ve included down to our favorites.
Best Overall Choice — Nike Air Monarch IV
You can’t go wrong with a classic design like the Nike Air Monarch IV. The cushioned insole is great for those with neuropathy, helping to relieve some of the pressure put on the nerves. The shoes are cost-effective and long-lasting, so they’re a sensible mid-budget choice for those with sensitive feet.
Best Premium Product — Gravity Defyer Proven Pain Relief
While these shoes are perhaps the most expensive on the list, they are specifically designed for those with a variety of foot issues — including neuropathy. The cushioned insoles and VeroShock Technology reduces the amount of stress put on your feet, making each step you take comfortable and soothing.
Best Value Product — Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe
For simple, everyday shoes, you can’t go wrong with the Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe. They’re shoes for neuropathy that don’t look like they’re for neuropathy, so you can wear them for both casual and upscale occasions all while managing your sensitive feet.
You don’t have to suffer from unmitigated foot pain anymore. With a pair of shoes from this list, you’ll have the pep in your step you had when you were younger.