The Best Shoes for Diabetics – Save Your Legs, Wear Diabetic Shoes!
Has anyone ever told you that having diabetes could make your feet hurt? To many of you, this may come as a surprise. However, in reality, foot problems remain one of the most common and serious complications of diabetes. Poorly controlled blood sugar can cause long-term damage to parts of the body, including the feet. High blood glucose can damage the feet in two ways
- Nerve Damage – Diabetes can damage the nerves in legs and feet, resulting in loss of sensation such as pain, heat or cold. This nerve damage is also known as diabetic neuropathy and can ultimately lead to an open sore, ulcer or an infection. Further, neuropathy can also lead to callus formation, altered walking patterns and unsteadiness.
- Vascular Damage – Diabetes can cause restricted blood flow to legs and feet, thus making it difficult for a sore or an infection to heal. This vascular damage is also known as peripheral vascular disease or PVD.
The above figure shows how serious foot complications develop in people with diabetes. According to International Diabetes Federation (IDF), approximately one in four people with diabetes will develop a sore or an ulcer in the feet at some point in their lifetime. If left unchecked, the infection can spread causing gangrene and may require surgery to remove the affected tissue. In extreme cases, if the infection is extensive, it may even require an amputation of the toe, foot or a part of the leg.
Feet First, Healthy Feet Matters
If you are among those people who have lived with diabetes for some time now or are at risk of developing foot complications, then you should put the health of your feet at the top of your priority list.
According to ‘Global Diabetes Report’ published by World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of lower limb amputations is ten times higher in patients with diabetes as compared to the non-diabetic population. Bone chilling as it may sound, but according to the statistics from IDF, every 20 seconds an amputation occurs as a consequence of diabetes in the world. Ironically, almost 85% of all such amputations can be prevented with daily foot care. Therefore, people with diabetes need to take good care of their feet by following self-care practices.
To – Do List for Healthy Feet
- Perform daily self-check feet exams and look for any blisters, cuts, ulcers, sores, calluses, red spots or swelling.
- Clean your feet daily with warm water, not hot. Make sure to check the water temperature using your hands or elbow first. Do not soak your feet and always dry well between the toes.
- Keep the skin of your feet moisturized by rubbing a thin coat of lotion. Do not apply any lotion between your toes.
- Avoid walking barefoot and always wear socks and shoes to protect your feet.
- Stimulate blood flow to your feet by wiggling toes, moving ankles, or putting the feet up.
- Have your feet checked by a podiatrist, a medical doctor who specializes in foot and ankle problems, at least once a year.
- Do not cut or trim the calluses and corns on your own or apply any over-the-counter products to treat them. Always check with a health care provider.
- Avoid tight, constrictive socks and change your socks every day.
- And above all, maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
Finding a Diabetes-Friendly Shoe
Given that foot problems associated with diabetes can worsen and lead to serious complications such as discomfort, loss of mobility and even amputations, thus, people with diabetes need to give a little extra consideration to their shoes as well.
A common myth among people with diabetes is that in order to maintain foot health, one need to wear special shoes. This statement is only partially true. The fact is although diabetics need to be extra careful about preventing foot injuries or infections, they can wear any shoe that fits them well and doesn’t put any pressure on their feet. An ideal diabetes-friendly shoe will have spacious toe boxes that prevent cramping or rubbing, a cushioned insole, and a seamless interior.
Tips to Getting the Right Shoe Fit
- To get the correct fit, buy your shoes in the afternoon or towards the end of the day as this is when the feet tend to swell.
- Make sure the shoe is larger than the feet, and there is extra room with at least 3/8–1/2 inch of space between the longest toe and the top of the shoe.
- Look for shoes with shock-absorbing sole and sturdy back to provide adequate support.
- Ensure that the inside lining or seam of the shoe is smooth and does not rub against the feet.
- Look for shoes made from lightweight and flexible materials such as leather that let your feet breathe and move easily. Avoid shoes made of plastic or vinyl.
- Prefer shoes with laces that can be loosened or tightened to accommodate any changes in the feet.
- Break in new shoes slowly and steadily. Even if the shoes are broken in, change your shoes after 5 hours of wear.
- Find a shoe that matches the shape and width of your feet. Avoid shoes with pointed toes, slip-ons or sandals that create pressure points.
- For ladies, if you cannot do without heels, limit your time in them. High heels tend to put increased pressure on the heels and balls of the feet. If necessary, opt for square, wide heels that are less than 1-2 inches high.
Do I need Diabetic Shoes?
Not everyone with diabetes needs diabetic shoes. If a person’s blood sugar levels are well under control, and he or she has no history of foot wounds or decreased sensation, investing in a pair of comfortable and well-fitted shoes may be all he or she needs. Such people can opt for off-the-shelf shoes with minimum or no modifications. However, if a person develops any foot problems or deformities, he or she may be recommended by a podiatrist to wear a diabetic shoe.
A diabetic shoe is a protective, therapeutic shoe designed especially for people with diabetes. It can be customized to fit snugly around the feet and protect them from injuries.
In case you are planning to invest in men diabetic shoe or women diabetic shoe, start by visiting a podiatrist to determine the correct shoe size by having your feet measured. People with diabetes tend to get wider and longer feet as they grow old due to flattening of the foot arch. As a result of these minor changes in the feet, the shoe size may alter. You can also visit a pedorthist, a specialist who is professionally trained to fit and modify shoes and orthotics (a custom-moulded footpad or shoe insert that provides foot support). A pedorthic can help manage co-existing diabetic foot conditions by fabricating a custom fitted diabetic shoe that is intended to help relieve pain, reduce pressure and provide extra support. This is achieved by taking detailed measurements of each part of the foot and preparing a pre-fabricated soft, cushioned, and custom-molded device to wear inside an extra depth shoe so as to accurately match the foot anatomy, thereby evenly distributing body weight over the entire foot surface and thus, reducing pressure and friction.
Got Your Diabetic Shoes Covered Under Insurance?
Medicare under its Therapeutic Shoe Bill provides special shoes and inserts to people with diabetes who qualify for Medicare part B benefits. For patients who meet the requirements, Medicare will pay 80% of the approved amount. To be eligible for coverage, your physician must certify that you have diabetes; you have a history of foot complications; and you are being managed under a comprehensive diabetes care plan. You may also require a prescription for diabetic shoes or inserts from a podiatrist.
For those not covered under Medicare, you can check your insurance plan to see if you are eligible for coverage for diabetic shoes.
As it often happens that when people hear the term diabetic shoes, they often think of big, ugly, clunky shoes. But today a great deal of diabetic shoes is available in attractive styles and multiple colors, just like regular shoes. Depending on their function, diabetic shoes are available in varied selection of athletic, dress, casual, therapeutic, sandals and so on. Below are some options of diabetic shoes available for both men and women. You can wear these fashionable shoes and still enjoy the health benefits.
The Best Shoes for Diabetics
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Get Started Now, Manage Your Diabetes
- Start taking care of your feet. Examine your feet every day and stick to your foot care regime.
- Be active and plan daily activity programs. Avoid activities that strain the feet and wear comfortable athletic shoes.
- Be sure to inform your physician if you feel you have serious foot problems.
- Manage your ABCs to prevent foot problems.
A= A1C; Goal for people with diabetes is below 7%
B = Blood pressure; Goal is less than 140/90 mmHg
C = Cholesterol; There are two kinds of cholesterol – LDL (or bad cholesterol) and HDL (or good cholesterol). Ask your physician what your levels should be.
Please share your tips and tricks about foot care in comments