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How to Choose the Right Shoes When You Have Diabetes

Tips for Assessing Your Footwear

Picking the right shoes size when you have diabetes can be challenging

A great way to proactively address your diabetes-related foot problems is to make sure that your shoes are comfortable, well-fitting, and protective. Since appropriate shoes can prevent new injuries and stop existing problems from getting worse, proper footwear is important whether you are newly diagnosed with diabetes or have been living with it for years.

Make sure your shoes:

  • relieve pressure on the feet. Shoes should be comfortable and cushioned to help take pressure off the bottoms of your feet, which are prone to blisters and ulcers. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage caused by diabetes, can make it difficult for you to detect injuries in your feet. To make an existing pair of shoes more comfortable, wear padded socks, add in a lift, or buy cushioned insoles.  A podiatrist (foot doctor) can help determine what you need.
  • protect the entire foot. People with diabetes should avoid going barefoot, since this leaves your feet open to injuries and infections. Leave a pair of comfortable shoes by your bed so that you can easily slip into them in the middle of the night. Additionally, athletic shoes and walking shoes should be chosen over shoes that expose your toes, such as flip flops or sandals.

  • are the appropriate size. Have your feet regularly measured, even if you think they have not changed. Shoes that are too small can cause rubbing and lead to painful blisters and sores. Additionally, your feet may swell by the end of the day (particularly if you spend a lot of time standing), so make sure that your shoes are flexible enough to accommodate changes in your foot size.
  • are suitable to wear for hours at a time. Take new shoes out for a test run; wear them for a few hours and carefully assess the way your feet look and feel. If you are heading out for the entire day, take a comfortable backup pair so that you can switch your shoes after a few hours, allowing your feet to breathe.

While there are many appropriate shoes available in department stores (ask a sales associate about shoes that are both therapeutic and stylish), you may wish to consider custom shoes, particularly if you have a foot deformity or other special foot concerns.  A podiatrist can help determine what is right for you.

Talk to your podiatrist about your shoe needs, and make sure to check with your insurance carrier to see if therapeutic footwear is covered. Additionally, some patients may be eligible for coverage under Medicare’s Therapeutic Shoe Bill which helps people with diabetes cover the cost of some therapeutic shoes and shoe inserts.

Updated on: December 1, 2017
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