What Kind of Shoes Should Diabetics Wear & How to Find them

Diabetes can affect a person’s health in many ways. Anyone who suffers from it knows that it can impair your physical activities from day-to-day in very uncomfortable ways. In this article, we’re going to be focusing on how diabetes affects the feet and legs. We’ll be diving into one of the best ways you can help alleviate these symptoms: by wearing diabetic shoes.

Shopping for a diabetic shoe isn’t as simple as shopping for a regular shoe. It isn’t as important how the shoes look, it only matters how they feel on you. You need to pick the most comfortable pair for your feet.

Diabetes causes high levels of glucose (or blood sugar) in an affected individual. This can reduce the supply of blood to the feet, while damaging the nerves. This condition is known more commonly as neuropathy. Neuropathy can cause a diabetic to have numbness and loss of feeling in the feet. This means that they can’t feel blisters, calluses, and other common foot injuries that can be caused by wearing the wrong pair of shoes. These injuries can also be extremely slow to heal and lead to infections due to poor blood flow.

Because of these factors, wearing shoes that don’t fit your feet every day can cause blisters and abrasions that can become more serious problems. And because of the nerve damage in your feet, you may not even feel these wounds. This can lead to a serious infection that could even require an amputation.

How Diabetes Affects the Feet:

  • Diabetic neuropathy occurs in 60-70% off people with diabetes and can damage the nerves in your legs and feet causing you to lose feeling in them. Because of this, you may not feel cuts, sores, or abrasions on your feet. This could lead to major complications due to infection. That’s why diabetic shoes can be so important. They offer comfortable support that won’t cause any chafing or blisters.
  • Peripheral vascular disease is what causes these cuts and sores on your feet to refuse to heal. This disease slows your blood flow and prolongs the healing time of blisters and cuts. These unhealed abrasions can increase your chances of developing a more serious infection like gangrene. This can eventually lead to the need for amputation.

How to Choose the Right Shoes for you:

  • Get an expert opinion. It’s a good idea to find a store with knowledgeable staff who can help you find the perfect fit for your foot.
  • Consult your doctor.  Some podiatrists give you the option to order your special shoes through them. If they don’t have shoes or inserts you can order, ask their opinion on the best place to find them.
  • Comfort over looks. Your shoes don’t have to look good, but they do have to feel good. Make sure that your new shoes feel comfortable as soon as you put them on. You shouldn’t have to break them in for them to feel good.
  • Go for a rounded toe. Look for shoes with a rounded end that offers plenty of room. Some women often purchase shoes that are too small for their feet and toes which leads to added pressure on the foot.
  • Thicker is better. A diabetic shoes needs a thick sole for comfort and shock absorption. If you can easily bend or twist the sole of a shoe, it means that the sole is too thin and flimsy to offer you enough support.
  • Seamless is good. Diabetic shoes offer a seamless interior that can prevent injuries from abrasions. They also offer special support to accommodate your feet. Foot issues associated with diabetes can actually weaken the muscles in your feet, leading to issues such as “hammer-toes.” Diabetic shoes can help to alleviate these symptoms.

After you wear a new pair of shoes, always inspect your feet for any blisters, abrasions, cuts, or other injuries. You may not even be able to feel the damage an ill-fitting shoe is doing to your foot.

Difference between Regular Shoes and Diabetic Shoes:

Regular Shoes

Regular shoes are designed for style and comfort for the average user. They tend to be made from cheaper materials that don’t allow much airflow for your feet. The materials that make the regular shoes include rubber, synthetic materials, and plastics. The materials will overheat your feet and trap moisture inside.  This can make the risk of infection in your feet even higher.

Regular shoes also have thinner soles and don’t offer as much support and shock absorption for the foot. They aren’t designed for people with foot issues.

Diabetic Shoes

Diabetic shoes are made solely with comfort in mind. They’re also designed also to help increase blood flow to the feet. They have a higher and wider toe box to give your feet more room to move while also providing support. The wider toe box ensures that the toes don’t get blisters and hot spots. As mentioned earlier, these are the kind of wounds that can cause serious problems for diabetics.

Diabetic shoes are also deeper compared to the regular shoes to leave room for inserts. These inserts add another level of support that can even help to correct uneven strides and provide more shock absorption for the feet and legs.

As mentioned before, a good pair of diabetic shoes should have no internal seams. These seams can cause abrasions and blisters. Always run your fingers along the inside of a shoe to check whether it has any seams or rough spots inside.

The soles of the diabetic shoes are generally thicker, in to protect your foot from unnecessary stress. These shoes also use high-quality materials that allow your feet to breathe. Some even offer built-in sturdy heel counter to for medial and lateral rear-foot firmness.

Now that you know the difference between regular shoes and diabetic shoes, you might be wondering what the main features of diabetic shoes that you should look for are. There are tons of options out there on the market, but here is a list of the most important shoe features are:

  • Protective Interior: Diabetic shoes are made with soft materials inside. They are designed specifically to reduce stress and strain on the feet. These soft materials also help to alleviate any chance of blisters and cuts.
  • Non-Binding Uppers: the top of the shoe shouldn’t have any material across the bunions area that will cause pressure or abrasions on the feet.
  • Stretchable Uppers: when the top of the shoe can stretch, it will contour to your foot and provide the idea level of support without applying too much pressure to your foot.
  • Orthotic Support: diabetic shoes are designed anatomical insoles for extreme comfort. They will provide excellent support for your arches, as well as added shock absorption for your feet and ankles.
  • Extra-Depth Design: deeper shoes provide room for your feet to move around. This give the shoe no chance of rubbing your feet the wrong way. It also allows them to breathe instead of trapping in moisture like a regular shoe woud.
  • Deep Toe-Box: when the tip of the shoe is larger, it allows more room for foot-deformities common to diabetics. Conditions such as “hammer-toes” can easily be accommodated for in a shoe such as this.
  • Multiple Widths: some diabetics may need a wider shoe than others. As such, many sizes of diabetic shoes offer multiple widths (small, medium, large) to allow for the perfect amount of space inside of your shoe.
  • Functional Soles: while diabetic shoes may have larger soles, they use high-quality materials that allow them to be functional and lightweight. This adds to the comfort for the user.

Budget Friendly Way to Shop For Diabetic Shoes

The cheapest way to buy diabetic shoes is using Medicare. Ask your healthcare provider for more information to see if you qualify for Medicare coverage. If you’re not covered by Medicare, you can talk to your insurance provider and see what options they have. If you aren’t covered, it is still extremely important that you buy a good pair of diabetic shoes. They will save you from many complications down the road.

Diabetic Shoes: Getting Reimbursed

If you’re covered by Medicare, the program will cover a pair of diabetic shoes and three pairs of inserts each year, as long as you continue to qualify. Criteria for qualifying include having diabetes and another factor that puts your feet at risk, such as a previous foot ulceration, poor circulation, or nerve damage. Some private forms of insurance will also cover these shoes.

Reason Why Diabetics Need To Pay Attention to Their Feet

If you don’t have diabetic neuropathy, but you have diabetes, you’re still at risk. All diabetics are at some risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. They’re also prone to having poor circulation of blood. Diabetic neuropathy is a severe and common problem of type 2 and 1 diabetes. It entails nerve damage as a result of uncontrolled levels of high blood sugar.

If you have diabetic neuropathy, you may experience a pins-and-needles sensation in their feet, loss of sensation, and sensitivity to touch, pain, numbness, and lack of coordination. It can even affect your legs, feet, arms, and hands. Wearing diabetic shoes can help to protect you from future problems with your feet. It can save you from future infections and even amputations.

How to Take Care of Diabetic Feet

Wearing high-quality diabetic shoes and inserts isn’t the only way to protect your feet and legs. They are an amazing tool to help keep your feet healthy, but you have to keep yourself safe too.

  • Make sure to check your feet every day for calluses, blisters, and other food injuries. If you make it part of your daily routine, this will be so easy!
  • Make sure to wash your feet every day! Always check the water before you do so. It should be lukewarm when you dip a finger in it.
  • Don’t walk barefoot or in socks on any surface that will expose your feet to excessive hot or cold temperatures. This includes surfaces like concrete in the winter or summer.
  • Always keep your toenails short. Trimming them regularly can prevent them from injuring your feet in any way.
  • Diabetic socks! There aren’t just diabetic shoes, there are socks as well. These socks can help your feet to breathe, while also providing an additional layer of support for your feet and legs.
  • Inserts will help a lot. For even more support, you can add inserts into your new diabetic shoes. These inserts will help to reduce the pressure on your feet, ankles, and legs. They can even help to correct any issues with your stride.
  • Use those new shoes and take a walk! Exercise has been proven to increase blood flow through the body. Walking will help you to increase blood flow to your legs, and prevent any issues caused by diabetic neuropathy.
  • Always check in with your doctor or physician. Regularly scheduled check-ups will help keep your doctor in the loop of your condition. They may be able to notice things that you have missed, so keep going to those appointments!

As always, if you notice any issues or anything you think is strange, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or healthcare provider.

Conclusion

There is a huge difference between an ordinary or regular shoe and a diabetic shoe. Even if you come across a regular shoe that boasts good foot support, it won’t be enough support for what you need. Yes, diabetic shoes are usually higher in price, but in the long run it is well worth the money. You’ll be keeping your feet healthy, as well as protecting yourself from any future infections and injuries that could lead to costly surgery. It’s extremely important to be vigilant about checking your feet if you have diabetes, especially if you have diabetic neuropathy. If you can’t feel your feet, you definitely won’t feel if there is anything wrong with them. Always consult your doctor if you have any issues, and stay healthy!

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