So often I get asked about diabetic shoes. What does or does not constitute the necessity for diabetic shoes. The easy answer is all diabetics need diabetic shoes but in the end when you work for a company who sells the product, your statements start to sound like marketing. I decided to write this blog to lay out my argument for why all diabetic patients need diabetic shoes.
To understand my thinking, first you must understand what diabetic shoes actually are.
- Diabetic shoes are not much different than non-diabetic shoes
- The ONLY difference between a diabetic shoe and a regular shoe is that a diabetic shoe comes in three widths
- Besides that, there is no difference. The difference is arbitrary.
Blew your mind right? Well, why do they call them diabetic shoes if the only difference between a diabetic shoe and a standard shoe is how many variations in width are made? Well first thing is simple. All diabetics need shoes and they need to be shoes that someone else picks out for them. The reality is that most of us, you and I, we wear the wrong size shoes. We wear the size we decided we needed 10 or 15 years ago, and we haven’t updated that in a while. We also haven’t tried the varying widths to know exactly which shoe we need.
So my first point all diabetics need shoes may have raised a few eyebrows. Diabetics often have reduced sensation in the lower extremities, especially the feet. Diabetic shoes are preventative. They prevent the diabetic from stubbing their toe or getting that piece of glass in their foot. For a non-diabetic these things are almost irrelevant. For a diabetic, they can lead to serious infection and amputation. Diabetics should be wearing shoes to prevent mechanical injury. Period.
Next point, when someone else fits the diabetic shoe for a person, the insurance company also requires the person fitting the shoe to examine the diabetic’s foot. Diabetic’s feet are not often examined. Even just examining these once per year can be a lifesaver, so a foot exam is a huge part of getting diabetic shoes. Also, insurance pays for diabetic shoes because some people simply can’t afford quality footwear. They need them (as stated above) if they are diabetic, so it is essential that everyone is provided with these items. It often costs exponentially more to treat one diabetic with mobility issues, than to buy shoes for perhaps hundreds of diabetic patients.
Finally, diabetic shoes are only part of the arrangement. When you get shoes, you also get 3 pairs of orthotics (Custom Inserts or Insoles) that allow the shoe to fit the foot. These orthotics significantly reduce pressure points on the bottom of the foot which can promote circulation and improve fitment of the shoe. These orthotics alone are very expensive when purchased for cash price and often are the major investment of the company providing diabetic shoes.
So you can see the major benefits of having diabetic shoes as a diabetic. You don’t have to have anything wrong with your feet to ensure you prevent things from becoming wrong with your feet. The more preventative actions we take the higher our Quality of Life will become overall and the lower our overall medical expenses will be.