For people with diabetes, foot problems are a common occurrence. Foot problems can lead to serious complications and are a leading reason for diabetes-related hospitalizations. Diabetic shoes are specially designed footwear that can help to evenly distribute pressure over the foot and reduce the risk of skin breakdown in diabetics at risk of, or with pre-existing, foot conditions.
Diabetes affects how the body uses glucose, a type of sugar that is a source of fuel for the body. Insulin moves glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body to provide energy, but if the body can’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work like it should, glucose doesn’t reach the cells and stays in the bloodstream, which can make you seriously ill and result in medical complications such as circulatory problems.
Common Diabetic Foot Problems
Foot problems are a common complication of diabetes and are usually caused by nerve damage and poor blood circulation. This can result in infections, foot ulcers or sores, deformities, and trauma to the feet. Diabetic conditions affecting the feet are:
- Peripheral Neuropathy refers to a condition that causes deterioration and damage to nerves. It can lead to impaired feeling in the lower legs and feet and causes foot injuries/conditions such as cuts and blisters, corns and calluses, fungal infections, and ingrown toenails to go undetected.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease is a circulation disorder that can result in reduced blood flow to the feet and the restricted delivery of oxygen and nutrients, leading to skin problems, infections, and pain. As a result, minor skin problems on the feet can become worse and lead to infection, and foot injuries, wounds, infections and ulcerationsmay heal slowly or poorly.
- Foot deformities associated with diabetes occur when ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues that stabilize the foot bones deteriorate. It can then cause the bones to shift out of position or cause the arch to collapse.
- People with diabetes are also at risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD decreases blood flow to the lower extremity which can cause pain and swelling in the calves and feet, ulcers or sores that refuse to heal, and in severe cases, gangrene.
Diabetic shoes and custom-molded inserts are designed to prevent and treat many diabetic foot problems. They offer protection from diabetic foot and reduce the risk of skin breakdown, particularly related to poor circulation, neuropathy, and foot deformities. They can also help to prevent pre-existing foot conditions from getting worse. Footwear is available in multiple widths to ensure a non-constricting environment for feet. Diabetic shoes are designed to:
- Ease pressure points by conforming to the unique contours of the foot and relieve areas of excessive pressure, allowing it to be evenly distributed along the foot
- Provide arch support and reduce the amount of vertical pressure on the bottom of the foot
- Reduce horizontal movement of the foot within the shoe
- Limit motion of the foot and the toe joints
- Support, stabilize, and accommodate foot deformities (including hammertoe, Charcot foot, or toe amputations)
Generally, people with diabetes are more prone to foot infections, and poorly fitting shoes can cause skin friction, rubbing, and tearing. Foot ulcers can also develop over areas of high pressure, such as bony prominences or foot deformities. Diabetic shoes are made with a soft, protective interior, with no protruding stitching or lining that could cause irritation or skin breakdown to diabetic feet. They also have lightweight functional soles with an ergonomic design to facilitate mobility.
Diabetic Foot Care
The best way to prevent complications associated with diabetes is to manage glucose levels. It is also very important to look after your feet and examine them daily for any cuts and scratches – particularly with a diagnosis of neuropathy. See a podiatrist immediately if you have wounds or sores that won’t heal. Taking care of your feet and visiting your podiatrist regularly can help to prevent many foot problems occurring or becoming potentially serious.
Diabetic Foot Care in Cincinnati, Ohio
At Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care, our highly skilled podiatrists can treat a wide range of conditions affecting patients with diabetes and assess the impact your condition has on your feet. We prescribe shoes and custom-made orthotics that accommodate surgery, ulcer treatment, or deformities associated with diabetic foot conditions. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call us today at the location nearest to you, or complete our online form to request an appointment.