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7 Differences Between Diabetic Shoes and Regular Shoes

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

As a foot doctor or podiatrist, many of my newly diagnosed diabetic patients will ask me this question. "What is the difference between diabetic shoes, and regular shoes?" Diabetic shoes can lower your risk of developing a foot ulcer or having a foot amputation by protecting the skin on your feet from injury. There are many ways that diabetic shoes can do this. These are the differences between diabetic shoes and regular shoes.

7 Differences between diabetic shoes and regular shoes

1. Diabetic shoes make it much easier to fit a shoe orthotic or insert

One way that diabetes affects the feet is by changing the shape of your foot over time. The arch of a foot in someone with diabetes can become very high, or the arch can collapse, causing a flat foot.

An orthotic shoe insert is an insole, worn inside shoes to give padding to certain areas on the feet that are painful and remove pressure from another area of the foot at high risk for developing an ulcer.

Orthotics can be customized, and made to address the unique needs and requirements of each person's foot to keep it healthy.

Diabetic shoes are constructed in such a way, that it is much easier to fit a shoe insert inside of the shoe, which lowers the risk of a diabetic foot developing an ulcer.

2. Diabetic shoes come in many different widths

Diabetes can cause the arch of your foot to collapse, which can cause your foot to spread, and become wider over time.

Also, many diabetics tend to have issues with swelling in their feet and legs, which will require a shoe to be wider to fit properly.

Diabetic shoes come in a range of widths to accommodate changes to the size of your foot as well as any swelling, without rubbing on the sides of the foot, and increasing the risk of forming a diabetic foot ulcer.

3. Diabetic shoes come in several different depths

Diabetes can cause deformities and dislocations in your toes. These include things like bunions, hammertoes, mallet, and claw toes. Diabetic shoes come in a way array of depths to fit changes to the toes, without rubbing on top of the toes, and increasing the risk of getting a diabetic ulcer.

4. Diabetic shoes have extra protection at the toebox

Diabetics oftentimes will have numbness, tingling, or burning in their feet. This is called peripheral neuropathy, and caused by high blood sugars damaging the nerves in the feet.

Unfortunately, if someone can't feel their feet, they can not feel if there is anything wrong with their feet (like a break in the skin) through pain. A diabetic having a wound on their foot, that they can't feel, delays treatment of the wound, and can lead to infection and amputation.

Diabetic shoes having extra protection at the toebox or the front of the shoes protects diabetic toes from injuries that they could have a difficult time feeling.

5. Diabetic shoes are seamless and tagless on the inside

Seams and tags inside of shoes, on the diabetic foot can lead to calluses or blisters, which can then lead to a foot ulcer, infection, and possible amputation. Diabetic shoes are seamless and tagless on the inside in order to protect the delicate skin of diabetic feet.

6. Diabetic shoes have a very stiff sole, and are rigid

Diabetic shoes have a stiff and rigid sole, or bottom, in order to control the motion of you foot. Controlling how a diabetic foot moves, especially when walking ensures that the foot stays in proper alignment, which leads to less rubbing or friction of the foot, therefore lowering the risk of a diabetic foot ulcer.

7. Can be covered by Medicare

If you have Medicare part B, this health insurance does cover one pair of diabetic shoes with 3 pairs of diabetic inserts every year. For those with Medicare, this is a great way to use your benefits in order to protect your feet, and lower your risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer.

In order to get a pair of diabetic shoes covered by Medicare, talk to foot doctor or podiatrist.

Schedule Your Appointment At Direct Podiatry Arizona Today

Looking for a doctor that performs diabetic foot care in Phoenix, AZ? My name is Dr. Tarr, I am a foot doctor, and the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona. To view available appointment times, click the following link:

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