Gout: mobility and footwear

Mobility and getting about

Most people found it difficult to stand or walk when they had attacks in their feet, ankles or knees because of the severe pain and swelling. Some tried to keep mobile even though it was uncomfortable or painful. Others found that the pain eased after moving around. 
Many people talked about ‘limping’ or having to ‘hobble’ around. People with attacks in their toes sometimes tried to walk on the side of their foot. Tony found that he would then get pain in his leg and hip from his foot being at the wrong angle.
Stairs were particularly difficult when people had attacks in their feet, ankles or knees. Several people had to go up and down stairs on their bottom. Harry once had to crawl on his hands and knees to get to the toilet. Other people who had diarrhoea, a side effect of colchicine, found it difficult to get to the toilet quickly when they had a painful attack in their foot or knee.
Some people used walking sticks or crutches, though not all found them helpful and a few felt that using a stick was embarrassing. Alan said that riding a bicycle was easier than walking because it put less pressure on his toe.
People who needed to see their GP often found it difficult to get to the surgery during an attack. Ian found it particularly difficult to use the London underground but needed to use it to get to work. Others felt frustrated that they could not leave the house because they could not walk or drive. This caused problems for some people who needed to get food shopping or other supplies. Carole was unable to take her dogs for walks. Joe said that a gout attack puts his ‘life on hold a little bit’ until it subsides. 
Some people were in too much pain to drive, but others were able to drive as long as their right foot was not affected (so they could still brake safely). Several found that changing gear was too painful, and a few were glad that they had automatic cars so did not need to use both feet. Other people struggled to get into a car because it was painful to move or bend their joints. 


People who had attacks in their feet or ankles often found it difficult to wear their usual shoes because of the pain and/or swelling. The pain was so bad that many people could not even wear a sock. Some could not leave the house because they could not put shoes or socks on. A few people said they could get their shoes on but it was uncomfortable. Others found that sandals, flip flops, slippers, or wider and/or bigger sizes of shoes were the best option for them. A few people left their feet bare. Ivor went to work wearing one shoe and one sandal. Runibunar had to wear protective safety shoes at work. He had to force himself to put them on during attacks, despite the pain, because he could not go to work otherwise.
A combination of gout and arthritis has left Val unable to wear the shoes she would like. She, like some other people we spoke to, had bought insoles or flat shoes that were more comfortable and supportive, although she found them too warm in hot weather. Other people had stretched or cut holes in their shoes to make them easier to wear. Jacqui was pleased that the swelling in her foot had gone down enough that she could wear shoes again, the first time being at her wedding. 
(For more see ‘Practical tips for gout’).

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Last reviewed December 2016


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