Diabetic shoes are rarely discussed as part of diabetes management in most websites or medical journals, which I find surprising due to its importance. One of diabetes side effects is the decline in the body’s ability to fight infection. Combined with a poor blood circulation, this could have a serious consequence that leads to amputation. In order to minimize this risk, your doctor may prescribe you diabetic shoes.
What are diabetic shoes?
Diabetic shoes are sometimes not shoes at all, but inserts specially designed for each individual patient. Although there are shoes made to meet this purpose, the most common usage is to have special inserts that replace the existing ones in your shoes. This way, most people can keep their shoes, or buy new shoes as needed and just move the insoles to the new ones. Your doctor may prescribe you diabetic shoes instead, depending on your specific situation, for instance if you have a serious feet problem or for other reasons.
Why the need for diabetic shoes?
As mentioned above, an untreated infection in your feet may lead to amputations. The reason is quite simple: Diabetes causes our immune system to go down, and as a result infection will heal slower. Improper shoes can cause problems as simple as dry skin, calluses and foot ulcers. Unfortunately many people make a poor decision when purchasing their shoes, basing mostly on appearance and style.
Some examples of poor choices are wearing shoes that are too tight, wearing high heels, or using insoles that do not fit the shape of the feet. Shoes that are too tight can easily cause frictions; and combined with dry skin, this may lead to skin breakdown.
Types of diabetic shoes
There are two basic types of diabetic shoes, custom made and depth shoes.
As the name implies, custom made shoes are made from a special cast of the patient’s feet, performed by your podiatrist. They are made of very soft material such as soft leather, with a flexible closing such as Velcro. The goal is to prevent any complication such as wound or infection, since diabetes patients not only have lower immune system, but also generally have poor circulation especially on the feet and legs.
The shoes are also equipped with removable orthotics, such as arch support, special heels support, and fillers, which is designed to fit the exact contour and shape of the wearer.
The second type is depth shoes. These are typically shoes with the insoles removed, which provides a minimum of 3/16 inch of extra depth for the customized insoles. The shoes should have either lace or Velcro closing, because you will need to adjust the tightness of your shoes after you put your customized insoles in. Slip on shoes cannot be used.
I chose to have custom made insoles instead of custom made shoes. The reason is because I can use them in my own shoes, so I can use the same insoles for all my shoes without any problem. The insoles can be used in other shoes such as sneakers and tennis shoes. What they did was make imprints of my feet to a special foamy material in a box, and send them to the insole manufacturer. They act as a cast for my custom made insoles.
Please be aware that you must make sure you buy the wide version of any kind of sports shoes. These shoes are marked as “wide” in any website, or if unsure please visit a shoe store and ask for help.