Diabetes is a disease caused by difficulty producing (type 1) or using (type 2) the hormone insulin. It causes your blood sugar levels to spike, potentially creating a whole host of other health problems, including for your feet.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, serving Jamesburg and the entire Monroe Township, New Jersey area, podiatric physician and board-certified foot surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and his team offer advanced diabetic foot care and these tips for buying shoes that will keep your feet safe.
What’s the link between diabetes and the feet?
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of other health conditions, including decreased blood flow to the limbs, impaired nerve function in the feet (peripheral neuropathy), and a compromised immune system.
Even small foot problems, like blisters, corns, or athlete’s foot, can be a big problem if you have diabetes. Because of poor circulation and the resulting decreased sensation, your feet take longer to heal, and you may not know that a problem exists unless you check your feet regularly.
A sore, a small cut, or even an ingrown toenail can become ulcerated and infected if not correctly treated. By bringing these issues to the attention of Dr. Perel, you can prevent the problem from progressing to the point where you require an amputation. Infected foot wounds are responsible for about two-thirds of lower-extremity amputations.
Foot wounds are now the most common cause of hospitalization for diabetics, and, as we’ve seen, they’re also often a precursor to amputation. Diabetics are 30-times more likely to have a lower limb amputated than their non-diabetic peers, and are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized for soft tissue and bone infections of their feet.
Shoe-buying tips for diabetics
Nerve damage can also change the shape of your feet. Bunions, a bony bump at the base of the toe, are more likely to develop in those with diabetes, as well as hammertoe, a condition where the toe joints bend inward. The latter can be caused by the pressure on the toe from the bunion or ill-fitting shoes. You might develop calluses, patches of thick hardened skin, on the soles and sides of your feet. Diabetics are also more prone to develop corns, fungal infections, and gangrene.
Because of shape changes and injuries resulting from neuropathy, wearing regular shoes is not advisable, and they may feel uncomfortable. If they’re too loose or too tight, shoes can put you at risk for additional foot problems or make existing problems worse. Instead, Dr. Perel may suggest diabetics look for certain types of footwear. Here are some things to look for.
Shoes made for diabetics are one-quarter to one-half an inch deeper than regular shoes. The extra room means the shoes don’t rub on sensitive areas such as calluses and hammertoes. These shoes also provide enough room for you to add inserts.
Shoes that have a lot of stitching on the top and sides only serve to rub your feet the wrong way. Look for shoes with padding that covers any seam that could aggravate your foot problems.
Healing shoes are meant to be worn while you recover from foot sores or foot surgery. While they’re available in open sandals and closed-toe versions, open-toed shoes aren’t usually recommended for people with diabetes since the toes can be more easily injured.
You can’t beat a custom-molded shoe, as it takes into account any deformity, providing enough space and cushioning to protect and coddle your feet.
Orthopedic shoes are not just designed for diabetics, but they provide foot support and protection for people with bunions, corns, or other foot problems. If your foot problems aren’t too severe, you can find a wide variety of orthopedic shoes in a store or online.
In addition to purchasing diabetic shoes, you have the option of modifying shoes you already own. You could add a thicker, more shock-absorbing sole, or purchase orthotic insoles to provide greater support and additional cushioning.
If you’re a diabetic and are worried about protecting your feet, you’re in good hands when you come into Monroe Foot & Ankle Care. Give the office a call at 732-521-6166 to set up a consultation with Dr. Perel, or book online with us today.