Since diabetics are prone to foot deformities and infections, it is imperative for diabetics to wear proper footwear, even when first diagnosed with the disease. Diabetics can suffer from peripheral artery disease (lack of circulation) and peripheral neuropathy (loss of feeling); as a result, the feet may become susceptible to a slew of problems: ulcers and wounds that do not heal properly, fungal infections, ingrown or brittle toenails, corns, calluses, hammertoes, athlete’s foot, and cracked or dry skin. Gangrene, or dead tissue, can develop, causing bacterial infections that may result in amputation of the affected areas.
Even light, every day activities such as walking can cause issues in the feet of a diabetic, as the bones, joints, and skin are affected by the condition. Therefore, it is important for diabetics to choose footwear that stabilizes the feet, limits motion, and offers adequate support to reduce foot pain and prevent further damage. For example, shoes that limit the movement of affected joints can alleviate inflammation and subsequent pain. Shoes that limit the horizontal movement of the foot against the shoe prevent friction that can cause skin irritation; in a diabetic, friction can eventually lead to ulcers, wounds, and infections, and deformities. Diabetics benefit from shoes that reduce impact, absorb shock, and lessen pressure along the bottom of the foot to prevent wear and tear that can lead to complications.
Special prescription footwear is available for diabetics, including custom-made shoes, healing and post-operative shoes, in-depth shoes that accommodate orthotic inserts (orthoses), external shoe modifications to absorb shock and add stability, and custom orthotic shoe inserts. Custom-made footwear and orthoses are molded from a cast of the patient’s foot and incorporate modifications for deformities, as well as relief from pressure.