Learning new things every day – diabetic shoes

One of the things that I love about this blog is that I learn something new virtually every time I write something. I’ve learnt about vegan shoes (which I really love), shoe art (which is weird and cool at the same time), shoes that help you lose weight, shoes that feel like you’re walking barefoot and now, shoes for diabetics. I had absolutely no idea that diabetics were prone to such nasty feet-related problems and that special shoes and socks are recommended to ensure that these problems are avoided and that feet aren’t amputated. All of which sounds very dire.

So, what are diabetic shoes and what do they do, exactly?

According to orthozilla.com, diabetic shoes are designed to “enhance foot function and comfort for diabetic patients”, which is a bit vague, so we look to epodiatry.com for a little more detail. Feet are greatly affected by diabetes, as diabetes damages nerves, causes poor circulation stiffens joints and increases the risk of infection. All of which is bad for diabetic feet because feet can be damaged but owing to nerve damage diabetics won’t know it, foot ulcers can result from bad circulation, which can cause infections that spread and could ultimately lead to amputation if not treated soon enough. Apparently diabetes is the main cause of all amputations.

Wikipedia, that venerable source of information, says that diabetic shoes are specially designed, often with inserts, which are supposed to reduce the chances of skin breaking down. They are also supposed to prevent a number of foot-related complications – strain, ulcers, calluses and amputations (a complication to be sure). Shoes are prescribed by doctors and fitted by certified pedorthist – a specialist in using footwear.

There are two types: custom moulded and depth shoes. Both are made from leather and have a form of shoe enclosure, and then they differ. Custom moulded shoes are based on a model of the wearer’s foot and have removable inserts, while depth shoes have a full length heel-to-toe liner and come in full and half sizes.

Diabetic shoes, which can look a little like “special shoes” but can also look quite fashionable, come in a number of styles, including, slippers, work shoes, walking shoes, dress shoes and boots and sandals. And then there are diabetic socks, which are “super soft, seamless and ultra-thin”. They are supportive, comfortable and provide much needed protection for diabetic feet. They reduce irritation and pressure, provide cushioning and wick away moisture to keep feet dry.

I love stuff like this. It’s so informative, and there’s nothing like finding out about the horrible things that other people have to live with to put your own nonsense in perspective. And coming from South Africa, where diabetic shoes and socks are not common knowledge, despite a large diabetic population, it’s also interesting to see exactly what is available in other countries in order to ease suffering.


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