The average person does not think about feet when they hear the word diabetes. But as almost any diabetic would tell you, foot infections are among the more serious problems that diabetics face. The combination of poor circulation (which affects the extremities of the body first) and nerve damage makes it difficult for diabetics to detect sore spots or injuries on their feet. Even minor problems such as blisters, calluses, corns, hangnails or a small cut can lead to foot ulcers (open sores on the feet) and wide-scale infections such as gangrene that lead to amputation. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of non-trauma related amputations in the industrialized world.
Picking the right pair of shoes, then, becomes a very important task. Shoes should protect the feet from outside trauma. They should be close-toed. Diabetics who work in accident-prone environments such as construction sites or factories might want to consider investing in steel-toed work boots. Shoes should also not inflict trauma on the feet. This seems like an obvious point! But many of us are used to suffering through a "break-in" period with new shoes. We put up with the blisters and calluses while our feet "adjust" to their new environment. For diabetics, there should be no "break-in" period. If your shoes give you blisters, you need a new pair of shoes. Look for shoes that advertise seamless interiors, moisture-resistant linings and a soft fit.
Reputable brands of diabetic shoes include Aetrex, Brooks, Etonics, New Balance, Instride and PW Minor. Some of these brands - such as New Balance - specialize in running or walking shoes. You can find them in a regular department store or online with little difficulty. When choosing a pair of shoes from among these mainstream brands look for keywords such as "soft fit", "orthopedic", "extra comfort", "seamless interior", "high-tech support" and "extra cushioning." Other brands - such as PW Minor - will label a certain pair of shoes as "diabetic shoes." It may be easier to find dress shoes or leather casual shoes suitable for diabetics by searching these collections. Look for special features associated with specific brands. For example, Aetrex offers diabetic shoes with three removable insoles that offer you maximum flexibility when it comes to adjusting the size of the shoe to accommodate your orthotics or the swelling of your foot. Most of these brands also offer diabetic socks and linings.