If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes no doubt you have a lot of things going through your mind – everything from what you should be eating (or not eating) to how you’ll deal with this emotionally and physically. It can be overwhelming. One of the things you’ll be hearing a lot about is foot care and the added dangers there are to the feet of people who have diabetes.
How Can Diabetes Affect My Feet?
One of the side effects of diabetes is high blood sugar which contributes to poor blood circulation. These can also lead to damage in the nerves of your feet – a condition called neuropathy. Put simply – neuropathy can cause you to lose feeling in your feet, which can make it hard for you to realize that you’ve cut yourself or injured your foot. Leaving cuts untreated can lead to infection. In addition, poor circulation can make it difficult for cuts and infections to heal.
As a diabetic you are also at a higher risk for open sores on the bottoms of your feet and toes. You can also develop thick areas of hardened skin called calluses. You’re also more at risk for common foot complaints such as bunions, fungal infections, corns and gangrene.
Foot problems that might seem insignificant like athlete’s foot or blisters can be a cause for concern if you are diabetic. Poor circulation can cause foot problems to heal slowly which can lead to infection if not treated properly. Infections and foot injuries can also change the shape of your foot. For example – people with diabetes are more likely to develop hammertoe, a deformity that causes the toe joints to bend inward.
What Can I Do to Protect My Feet?
Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can put you at additional risk of foot problems when you are diabetic. In addition, changes to the shape of your feet or foot injuries can make regular shoes feel uncomfortable. Your doctor or podiatrist can direct you to a wide range of shoes made specifically for people who face these same concerns.
We should all be wearing well made, well-fitting shoes, but it’s even more important for diabetics. If your diabetes is under control and you don’t have any existing foot problems, a comfortable, well-fitting shoe may be all you need. But there are some features that your doctor may recommend if you need additional assistance.
What Features Should I Look For?
- A shock-absorbing sole – it will help decrease pressure on the bottom of your foot
- A solid back to provide extra foot support
- Made from flexible material like leather, suede or canvas
- Well-fitting lightweight shoe that allows circulation and freedom of movement
- Closures (laces or Velcro) that allow you to loosen or tighten your shoe to accommodate swelling or changes in your feet over time
What Should I Avoid?
- High-heels – if you must wear heels look for round-toe styles below 2 inches in height
- Shoes without arch support – they may lead to the breakdown of tissue in your foot
- Too tight or too loose – wear well-fitting shoes to avoid damaging your feet
- Pointed toes – they restrict circulation and aggravate your toes by constricting them