Diabetes affects over 8% of Americans which equates to roughly 26 million people annually. Two of the major physical complications of the disease include neuropathy – or loss of sensation, and circulation issues – IE: cold extremities. One of the first things medical professionals suggest when diagnosing the disease is that the patient invests in a proper pair of diabetic shoes. And yet very few patients follow through with that suggestion until it’s too late. Why is this the case?
Mainly because troublesome leg and foot issues often don’t appear for several years. And by the time they do, the patient may have no clue of the issue because he has lost the sensation in his feet and has not seen the damage. Improper foot care can lead to sores and blisters for anyone, but it goes beyond simple sores with diabetes. Bruises, skin abrasions, ulcers. But doctors also see patients who have stepped on knitting needles or syringes, nails, or broken glass and haven’t felt the pain.
Diabetes leads to the narrowing of blood vessels, which causes blood to slow. This causes wounds to heal at a highly reduced rate. In some cases, that can lead to amputation. Such problems are avoidable by wearing proper diabetic shoes. But what are the most important characteristics of diabetic shoes?
A good diabetic shoe will be flexible enough to fit as the day progresses. Even healthy feet tend to swell towards the evening hours. But edema is known to accompany diabetes even if the patient hasn’t been on their feet much of the day. Soft leather and mesh are the best stretchable fabric options for diabetic shoes.
The toe box is the area of the shoe that stretches over the toes. While narrow or pointed shoes are fashionable, they cut off the circulation and cause more issues for diabetics. The right diabetic shoes must have a long enough toe box to give a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the edge of the shoe. It must also be wide enough to allow wiggle room and no rubbing of any toe against the shoe’s edge.
Good diabetic shoes come in a variety of shoe widths. Each person is different, just as each diabetic reaction is as well. Focus on fit. And if the shoes you want don’t come in the right width, choose one that does. Function is more important than form when it comes to diabetic foot care.
Most decent shoes have linings nowadays. But with sensitive feet, extra stitching can cause skin abrasions and sores. And it can happen every time you slide your feet into your shoes – even while wearing socks. Diabetic shoes should come with an interior soft fabric or nylon lining that is completely seam-free.
Double Removable Insoles
Extra interior footbed padding is essential to diabetic care. The right shoes will contain at least double the thickness of a regular footbed, and it will be removable. This is so that IF you require prescription orthotics during your treatment, you can add and remove those at will. This will also extend the life of your specialized health shoes.
Shoes with thick, shock absorbing soles that angle upward from the heel to the toe are called rocker bottom or rocker platform soles. This component emulates the natural rocking motion of the foot during walking. That’s especially beneficial for those who have mobility issues due to joint pain or extreme neuropathy. The rocker also propels, which reduces stress on sensitive foot skin.
Have the Right Medical Requirements
Many shoes have one or more of the above listed characteristics of diabetic shoes. But those labeled as being meeting the minimum HCPCS A5500 requirements are Medicare approved in most cases. This means they’re medically intended to support diabetic needs and in most cases are covered or reimbursed by Medicare. This can be a serious bonus for those on a fixed income or budget. And who isn’t nowadays?