Diabetes is the name given to several diseases that prevent the body from fully breaking down sugar, leading to higher concentrations of glucose in the blood. High blood glucose levels over long periods results in damage to the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. In addition, diabetes also decreases the immunity of people and reduces their ability to fight infection.
While this can lead to many different problems, one common area that is most often affected are the feet.
Due to nerve damage, diabetics can develop a condition called peripheral neuropathy which results in reduced sensitivity around the feet. Effectively, what this means is that diabetics are less aware of injuries they sustain to their feet and so may delay appropriate remedial action. Due to reduced immunity, these injuries are more prone to infections and due to reduced healing capacity, the wounds take longer to heal. Due to blood vessel damage, blood flow to the extremities is also reduced leading to reduced supply of antibiotics which in turn will delay the healing process.
In addition, diabetics are also prone to bone deforming conditions such as heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot which connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. A heel spur is a hook of bone that can form on the heel bone (calcaneus).
What this means is that foot care is of paramount importance and injury prevention must be one of the top goals. As a diabetic, the first thing to learn is the VSE technique. VSE stands for Visual Surveillance of Extremities. Everyday, as soon as one gets up, and just before going to bed, do a visual inspection of the legs to see that there are no unnoticed injuries and bruises.
The second thing to do is to get appropriate footwear. Thankfully, there are a lot of manufacturers now providing good quality footwear specifically made for diabetics. The attributes to look for in footwear for diabetics are:
- MCR or MCP insoles. MCR is Multicellular rubber and MCP is Multicellular polyurethane. MCP is usually lighter than MCR and hence the footwear will also be light. MCP and MCR both provide a lot of cushioning that can help reduce foot pain.
- Soft uppers and material – Rough material can lead to chaffing which can lead to further complications and hence the foot wear, especially the insides, should be made of soft material.
- Removable insoles. Removable insoles help in quick customization of the footwear, especially if there are any ulcers on the foot. The MCP/MCR material can be cut as required and the pressure on the ulcers can be reduced.
- Weight. Ideal diabetic footwear should be as light as possible.
- Style and appearance. Just because it is MCR/MCP footwear does not mean it has to be ugly. There are quite a few manufacturers of very elegant footwear. All this apart, if you are diabetic and you hurt yourself or walking becomes painful, consult a doctor immediately.
You can see a few different kinds of footwear for diabetics here.