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What's different about a Diabetic Shoe?

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A Diabetic shoe is different because it is generally made with a deeper toe box to accommodate a thicker insole for foot deformities such as hammertoes.  Other characteristics found in a diabetic shoe is a softer Upper as well as a light-weight build.  Diabetic shoes should be designed with a minimum number of seams on the inside of the shoe.  By avoiding excess seams, you lower the risk of possible irritation of the skin on your feet and associated complications.  Look for a Diabetic shoe that has a padded ankle Collar. A padded Collar is important to prevent possible irritation where the material meets your ankle.

Do Diabetic shoes work in preventing foot ulcers?

For the most part, Diabetic shoes are only minimally effective as an isolated treatment to prevent foot ulcers.  Most studies suggest that they help, but only if part of a Diabetic foot management program. Many times, the insoles in Diabetic shoes are off-the-shelf devices with no accommodation or customization. Insoles should be soft and look like the bottom of the foot. If the shoes are part of a comprehensive diabetic foot management program, they can be a useful tool to help prevent problems with the feet.

Who needs Diabetic shoes?

In my opinion, Diabetic patients that have had a previous foot ulcer, or have a foot deformity with Neuropathy should consider using a Diabetic shoe.  If your feet have a normal shape and normal sensation, a regular athletic shoe is probably just as good as a diabetic shoe.

Do I need Diabetic shoes?

The answer to this question can be found with a simple foot inspection you can perform right now.  Look at your feet.  If you see any of the following, you should consider doing something about your shoe gear: 

Bumps:   Bunions, hammertoes, or pressure points (red spots) on the bottom of your feet.

Calluses: If you see a callus anywhere on your foot, those are your body telling you there is too much pressure and force are being applied to that area.  If you don’t feel some discomfort related to the callus, or if you see blood in the callus, that is a very serious warning sign of an impending ulcer.

Missing toes:  Missing toes create pressure points in other parts of the foot.  It also means you have a significant risk for future ulceration and amputation.

Red spots: Red spots can occur where there is too much pressure on the toes or other bony prominences.

Any nerve symptoms: These can include numbness, tingling, burning, insensitivity, loss of balance, inability to feel heat or cold.  You can test this with a feather.  Rub the feather on the bottom of your foot and then your hand or arm.  If it feels different on your feet, you need to be very careful with what shoes you get. 

In conclusion, diabetic shoes are important but only if part of a diabetic foot care management program.

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