MBT shoes and Ankle Fusion

We frequently hear our customers sing the praises of MBT shoes — “I am truly amazed at the difference the MBT’s have made in just a month. I am walking better, my posture has improved, I can work a double shift without my legs or knees hurting, I am more relaxed when walking and I am sleeping better than I have in years!” — but recently we received feedback regarding a medical condition that stood out:

“I have an ankle fusion and hate shopping for shoes. However, Footwear etc. carries the MBT shoes – the only shoes I can wear — in many styles, and I receive them quickly with no extra fees. I love the free socks they sent with my last order!” – Lauren B.
Curious to learn more about “ankle fusion,” I turned to Google and found MBT shoes mentioned often in connection with this surgical technique. It is a challenge to fathom that doctors utilize surgery to get the bones around the ankle to grow together, but it seems to reduce the pain caused by ankle arthritis.

I imagine mobility is severely limited by having one’s ankle bones fused, yet I find that walking and even running is an active part of post surgical recovery. So how do MBT shoes help? With the range of motion limited by the fusion, shoes with proper support and rolling motion appear to assist in comfortable movement.

If you have experience with ankle fusion surgery and MBTs, we’d love to hear from you. Attach a comment below.

22 Responses to MBT shoes and Ankle Fusion

  1. Connie Carey says:

    I too had ankle fusion surgery in March of this year 2008. This was due to a pilon fracture caused by a motorcycle/sidecar accident May 2007. After three surgeries to piece back my ankle with screws and plates I incurred horrible traumatic arthritis. The pain from this was intolerable. The doctors suggested and encouraged ankle fusion surgery for relief. This surgery is a difficult one to get through and without range of motion because of no ankle joint almost impossible to walk without damaging other parts of the body. I needed rocker bottom shoes. After some research I found MBT shoes and wrote to them about my situation. The person who answered my post was very encouraging. The next day I went to the store in my area that carries them and tried them on. Immediately I could tell these shoes were going to be a huge help in the ability for me to walk again! I must say there is a learning curve. However that happens anyway after this type of surgery. I now have the freedom to walk, and walk in comfort! The MBT shoes are also working my poor leg, calf, and ankle muscles that had all but gone away. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel because of MBT shoes. (and it isn’t a train!) One of the best things about wearing MBT shoes is there are many styles and the are stylish. I don’t feel like I’m wearing orthopedic shoes! Thank you, Connie

  2. Paul Crosby says:

    I have arthritis in my left ankle due to an injury just above the ankle in 1994. Ankle fusion was suggested as a possible solution by one surgeon and I am going to see another one in two weeks to get a second opinion or to see if other options are available. I started taking gloucosamine and chondroitin to help it heal naturally … but it may be too late for that. Question: would the MBT’s help even now? Part of my pain is the damage that was done to the tendons and ligaments around the joint. It seems like that are all wadded up and actually I have VERY limited range of motion even now. I am a police officer and of course, I need to be able to walk evenly. By the way, two down-sides to the MBT’s is that they are very expensive (but may be well worth it) and that they look kind of cheesy. Any thoughts out there?

  3. Anthony Howarth says:

    I too am the lucky recipient of a pilon fracture of the ankle (its 3rd Birthday is next month) and am listed for a fusion in March. The MBTs sound promising but I too will find it hard to scrape the pennies together. I suppose a prescription is out of the question…

  4. Debra says:

    I believe there is nothing better for a fused ankle than MBT’s!

  5. Dave says:

    I had my ankle fused on march 26th , this is from an accident 20 years ago had I had no cartlage left and full of arthtitis. I’m still on crutchs so far and hope to start walking the first week in June (next Doc appoitment). Im looking for a pair shoes that will be comfortable and help with walking with a fused ankle. Do you make a shoe in a steel toe? I do a lot of walking on my job and would be looking for good for work shoe also.

  6. Jan says:

    Dave — We don’t carry any shoes in steel toe, but appreciate your comment and question. We wish you a very speedy recovery, and hope the doctor’s appointment is wonderful. Hang in there!

  7. Beth says:

    I too am post right ankle fusion in March 2009. I’ve been trying to find a pair of really comfortable shoes that will let me start power walking again. I tried on a pair of Skechers, Reeboks, and MBT’s. It is really hard to actually know how the shoe will work until you’ve worn it several times. I went with the Reeboks, and although they are great for my left foot, my ankle fused foot pulls hard on the outside heel making the ball on the shoe wear unevenly. After about two months, the shoes are already becoming unwearable. I appreciate all the comments above about ankle fusion and MBT’s…looks like I will give them a try!

  8. Irene says:

    I have had a serious ankle break (trimalleor fracture) 5 years ago plate pins screws and many operations. Now waiting for a fusion.
    I have worn MBT’S since the accident and have many pairs, I know they are expensive but family clubbed together at xmas and birthdays and I now have a fair range.
    Without these shoes I would be in agony all the time I can stay on my feet longer, my walking looks ‘normal’ I just wish they made slippers!!
    Remember to that most of the areas that wear down can be replaced so in affect they will last a lifetime.

  9. amber says:

    I am just hearing of these MBTs. I have drop foot due to a lower spinal injury so My ankle has been fused for about 5 years. I walk with a partial limp and somedays it is more noticable than others. I wear normal shoes. i am a bartender/server, so i am fortunate. I have really ran in many years and would like to start training to go out for the police force. Are the mbts light weight? I need a light but solid shoe. heavy shoes seem to weight down my toes.

  10. amber says:

    correction: i have not ran in many years

  11. Jan says:

    Hi Amber… MBT shoes feel heavier than regular shoes when you hold them in your hands. But when you wear them on your feet they don’t feel that heavy. We have received many emails over the years from customers who have had their ankles fused. They have all reported a positive experience with the shoes. You are always welcome to try them out around the house to see how you like them. We have no time limit for returning shoes that you haven’t worn outside. Please call us at 1-800-720-0572 if you have any other questions or if you need any help.

  12. Terry Roberts says:

    I’m going to have my rt ankle fusion ed Feb. 10, 2011. I’m scared but, more reading the blogs I’m getting more comfortable.

  13. Michelle says:

    I have severe traumatic arthritis of the ankle due to a bad break from a horse-riding accident. Horrible pain of arthritis in my ankle (like putting pieces of broken glass in the joint) and very limited range of motion prompted me to buy a pair of MBTs. At first I felt like they had helped, but after some time I even started to think they were making the pain worse. With the round sole I could ‘roll over’ more easily to take a step, but at the end of the day my ankle was tender and even more painful than normal. When my next doctor’s appointment came, I asked her about the shoes. She confirmed that for traumatic arthritis in an ankle the shoes are not recommended, because the ankle is not offered enough stability — there’s too much motion there, which worsens the arthritis. An orthopedic shoe with a neutral ‘standing position’ in the sole is a better choice, according to her. Good LUCK everyone!

  14. Paula says:

    After 7 surgeries done to my ankle from a motor vehicle accident in May 2009, I finally decided that ankle fusion was the best option for me. Considering, I am only 25 years old and hope to have many years ahead of me, I don’t want to live in agony due to my ankle. My surgery was October 2010 and just started walking two months ago.
    Finally learning how to walk again, super excited about trying these MBT’s out. For those of you who haven’t tried Sketcher Shape-Ups, they are just “okay.” It seems as though I am walking on the outside of my foot, which should be completely flat.

  15. Robin says:

    Michelle – thanks for passing along the info from your podiatrist. It’s always good to know about other opinions and options available. Hope your ankle feels better!

  16. MJ Calabrese says:


    I’m a police officer and broke my leg and ankle (while at work) in three locations, while rupturing many ligaments. It’s been 16 months, three surgeries, and due to the above mentioned outlandishly painful post traumatic arthritis, I’m now in a rigid AFO awaiting approval for a fusion. I’m nervous about having the surgery because I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my job as I need to be able to run on even/uneven ground, rapidly ascend and descend stairs, fight, ect. Long story short, I either have the surgery and possibly not be able to come back to work, or I continue living with the severe pain and never be able to return.

    Does the footwear help enough to be able to do those things and possibly help ,e return to work?

  17. tee says:

    would like to know what others think about this one. My husband is facing the same issues. After living in horible pain for 10 yrs he had ankle fusion surgery only to have his employer of 27 yrs now try to fire him before he even gets the chance to see if he can return if only on light duty. He performs maintence for apt complexes. He also hunts and is worried he will no longer be able to do that. They don’t make hunting boots for people that cant bend their ankles..the boots all lace up the front.

  18. Norm Cameron says:

    I wanted some advice. I have had an Ankle Arthrodesis and need to wear rocker bottom shoes. I have been advised by everybody that MBT is the best. However, some questions you may be able to answer for me. My right leg is a half inch shorter on the (arthrodesis ankle) the right. Do I wear a lift in my MTB’s?? I am also concerned about stability if I use 2 rocker bottom shoes?? How much of a problem could this be?

    Thank you in anticipation.

    Norm Cameron

  19. Jan says:

    Hi Norm, If you are currently wearing a lift in your right shoe? If so, then yes, you would also want to wear it in the MBT. If not, then we would recommend practicing at home wearing the MBT’s as they are and see what your experience is. Unless you experience hip problem or pain in your knee you could be fine as is. If after wearing the MBT shoes areound the house for a couple of hours a day for a few days and you do experience pain, then we would advise using the lift. Please be advised, that the final decision should be made with your doctor. You will have to get used to the rocker bottom instability. Keep increasing wearing time gradually. As for the stability question, you can also try the MBT shoes with Superfeet insoles. This would help prevent prontation. If you are local to one of our stores in California we can help you with this in person. Thanks and good luck!

  20. Mary says:


    Im 31 years old and have just been told i need a complete ankle fusion on both ankles. The MBT shoes look fine and comfy for everyday use but im wondering if there was a more ‘fancier’, less chunky shoe that i could wear with nice dresses for more special occasions like christenings and weddings? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks

  21. Jan says:

    Hi Mary, We have received MANY comments from people who have had great success wearing MBT shoes after having their ankle(s) fused. Our best suggestion would be to look at the dressier MBT styles such as the Sirima or Tunisha. Thanks!

  22. paul says:

    Hi Mary
    Interesting to know someone else who has to have both ankles fused such as myself,I have tried wearing Mbts and although they are smart,find the side to side rocking motion of the shoes a strain on the lower joints and tendons of my ankles.