Diabetes Mellitus is a medical condition in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are consistently too high. Glucose is needed to supply the body with energy. Diabetes occurs when the body does not make any insulin or does not use enough of it. It is a life-long, chronic health condition that requires ongoing maintenance and monitoring....Learn more
A staggering number of Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and millions of them will experience some degree of foot pain and neuropathy. A few ways that diabetes can affect the feet include:
- Numbness and loss of feeling
- Cuts and sores
- Change of skin color
- Cracked skin
- Ingrown toenails
- Diabetic ulcers
- Plantar Fasciitis
In addition to these symptoms, foot problems can lead to further medical concerns. For example, if you lose feeling in your feet, you are less likely to notice when you cut your foot. This, paired with poor circulation, prevents the cut from healing, which can lead to infection. Nerve damage can increase the chances of having foot problems, as well as foot pain. Over time, untreated foot problems can lead to foot deformities, like a hammertoe.
Why a Diabetic Needs Diabetic Shoes
There are many reasons why a diabetic should always choose diabetic shoes:
- Reduces the risk of foot injuries: Shoes that don’t fit well put your feet at risk of cuts and blisters.
- Reduces the risk of developing common foot problems: This includes corns, calluses, blisters, cracked heels, joint paint, foot ulcers and wounds.
- Minimizes pain: Many individuals with diabetes already have some degree of foot pain. The right pair of shoes can reduce the severity and frequency of pain. Exercise is also an essential part of many diabetes patients’ treatment plans. Without the right pair of shoes, you may find it difficult to keep moving.
Choosing the right pair of shoes may be more important than you realize. Some foot conditions can lead to dangerous problems. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to foot deformities, which can make it challenging to get around. An increase of foot cuts and ulcers can also lead to gangrene if they do not heal right, which could eventually lead to an amputation. In fact, many experts estimate that a large percentage of required diabetic amputations are due to poor shoes.
Features of a Good Diabetic Shoe
Wearing the right shoes is a critical part of adequately taking care of diabetic feet, and their associated symptoms. Good diabetic shoes should have the following features:
- Well-fitted: Well-fitted shoes are important when you have diabetes. Normal shoes may feel uncomfortable, especially if your diabetes has caused your foot shape to change. Additionally, shoes that are too tight or too loose can worsen your pains. Well-fitted means considering there should be room for your toes too.
- Adjustable: You may notice that your feet are worse on some days than others, especially if you experience a spike in blood sugar. An adjustable shoe, either with laces or Velcro, can help you accommodate your feet.
- Extra-depth and roomy toe box: Extra-depth shoes not only help you accommodate your feet when they are more swollen, but they also give you room to use inserts. And having a roomy toe box allows your toes to spread out, keeping the rest of your body in alignment and preventing your feet from developing painful conditions like hammer toe or bunions.
- Closed-toe: Open-toe shoes are not ideal for individuals with diabetes. Open-toe shoes put your feet and toes at a greater risk of injury. Shoes made with durable materials, especially over the toes, can also help you protect them from injury.
- Breathable: While you want your shoes to fit you well, they should also allow your feet to breathe comfortably. Diabetics are at an increased risk of developing foot infections, so moisture-wicking materials are good.
- Pressure-relieving: Pressure-relieving features, like a cushioned sole that absorbs weight and reduces pressure points, will improve comfort.
- Solid heel support: The back of the shoe should have a supportive heel that keeps it firmly in place.
- Cushioned: Cushioned soles also help absorb impact when you walk, protecting your feet. Many cushioned diabetic shoes are designed to protect the feet and provide them with comfort.
- Supportive: In addition to a good cushion, it is also important to have supportive shoes. This should include good arch and ankle support.
- Seamless: A poorly placed tag or seam can irritate your feet or toes, and even break the skin, putting you at risk of infection.
For best results, pair your diabetic shoes with a good pair of diabetic socks that promote blood circulation.
The great thing about buying your diabetic shoes online is that you can find the right pair of shoes that fit all your unique needs. While diabetic shoes are designed to help people with diabetes, there isn’t one generic need across all patients who have diabetes. When you shop online, you can find a pair of shoes that fit the shape of your foot, while also protecting you from additional damage.
Finding the Right Fit
Finding the right fit of diabetic shoes requires that you evaluate your current foot problems and shape. Consider what type of foot conditions you are most prone to, as well as the current shape of your feet. Do you need shoes that relieve pressure when walking? Do you want a good pair of house shoes that protect your feet when at home? If you are unsure, you can always work with your physician or podiatrist on finding the right pair of shoes.
Shoes that fit well are important any time you are on your feet. This means that you might decide to have multiple pairs of shoes, like a pair of diabetic dress shoes for work, and a more casual pair at home. With many options available at Kuru, you have a lot of stylish yet comfortable, therapeutic shoes available to choose from. It can also be a good idea to get a good pair of diabetic slippers. Even walking around the house barefoot is not recommended. This puts your feet at risk of cuts and other injuries.
Some diabetic patients might even choose to have a custom-molded shoe or custom orthotics made. This is an option for those with severe foot deformities or concerns. But if you don’t have severe deformities, Kuru’s shoe technology has soles that molded to your foot, part of what makes our shoes so comfortable and last longer.
Shoes to Avoid
It can also be helpful to know which shoes to avoid when you have diabetes. The following shoes are not ideal for those with diabetes:
- Poorly fitting
People are often attracted to poorly fitted shoes because of the stylish options that are not always available with diabetic shoes. But, when you shop with certain shoe brands, like Kuru, you can have properly fitting shoes designed for diabetics that also look good. In fact, many of the shoes make it difficult for others to even tell that you are wearing a diabetic shoe.
Treating Your Diabetic Feet
In addition to the importance of choosing the right pair of shoes when you have diabetes, there are other ways to treat your diabetic feet. These include:
- Check your feet for cuts or sores daily
- Schedule a visit with a podiatrist yearly
- Notify your physician of any foot-related problems immediately
- Avoid gong barefoot, even when at home
- Practice good foot care hygiene. Wash and thoroughly dry your feet daily and put on a fresh pair of socks each day. Vaseline can be good for feet to prevent them from cracking. However, avoid using it between your toes.
- Protect your feet from extreme hot or cold temperature conditions
- Stay active to encourage blood flow
- Follow your diabetic treatment plan
The treatment of diabetes often means following your doctor’s plan, checking blood sugar levels daily, and taking insulin as needed. The same consistency and dedicated treatment are also important when it comes to your feet.
Medicare’s Diabetic Shoe Program
Perhaps the biggest complaint when it comes to diabetic shoes, is that they cost more than traditional shoes do. This is because diabetic shoes are designed to fit you well, while also preventing foot injuries. Non-diabetic, regular shoes at the store are often made with cheap materials that can worsen your foot condition and pain.
Fortunately, if you have diabetes, you may be eligible for Medicare’s diabetic shoe program. If you have Medicare Part B and have diabetes and diabetic foot disease, they may help to cover one pair of custom-molded shoes, inserts, and a pair of extra-depth shoes, each year. They will also cover two additional inserts for custom-molded shoes and three inserts for extra-depth shoes.
However, it is important to note that Medicare Part B does have strict requirements, so you will want to make sure that you meet them if you plan on using your benefits to buy your diabetic shoes. First, a doctor must certify your need for diabetic shoes. This includes certifying that:
- The patient has diabetes
- The patient has one of the following previously, either in one, or both feet: partial or complete amputation, foot ulceration, pre-ulcerative callus, nerve damage from diabetes, poor circulation, or a foot deformity
- The individual is currently being treated with a diabetic care plan
Medicare also requires that a licensed podiatrist or diabetic doctor prescribe, and fit, the shoes. Before buying, make sure your doctor or healthcare provider is enrolled in Medicare and that your supplier accepts Medicare benefits.
If you are approved, Medicare Part B members are only responsible for 20% of the cost, in addition to their deductible. In some cases, other types of insurance may also cover diabetic shoes. Fortunately, Kuru shoes are very affordable, making them a great option, even if you don’t have Medicare coverage. Some health savings accounts (HSA) can be used when buying diabetic shoes.
Your feet are an important part of your diabetic care plan. Don’t sacrifice the health of your feet with a pair of cheap, poorly-fitted shoes.