Many Diabetic Patients Wear Incorrect Footwear, Study Finds

Many patients with diabetes fall short on foot care and footwear, according to a new study. The study conducted out of Lagos, Nigeria asked patients with type 2 diabetes about their footwear habits and foot care. The average age for the study was 57 years old.

Most diabetes patients polled for the study said they know proper foot care and properly fitting shoes are important, but they don’t always follow through, according to Stephen Ogedengbe, MD, a researcher at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in Benin City, Nigeria. He presented the study at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ meeting in San Diego.

Of the people polled in the study, 90 percent of them had education about footwear, 83 percent wash and dry their feet, and 51 percent of them do the recommended routine self-exams of their feet. However, 56 percent of the participants said that they walk around their house without protective shoes and 15 percent of those even walked outside without them.

When evaluating the footwear of the participants, Ogedengbe found that 68 percent of the footwear that the participants wore was inappropriate for a diabetic. Some of the styles that were determined to be problematic included shoes with pointed toes, high heels, and thong styled flip flops. Besides inappropriate shoe styles, Dr. Ogedengbe also found several participants wore the wrong size. Despite all of these flaws, 73 percent of the participants thought that their shoes were acceptable.

”The result doesn’t surprise me,” says Dr. David G. Armstrong, professor of surgery and director of the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson. “The doctor and nurse can tell the patient something. Just because we tell them doesn’t mean they are going to be motivated to make changes.”

Failure to perform recommended foot care and wearing inappropriate footwear can set diabetes patients up for foot ulcers. Ulcers are painful and potentially serious. They can sometimes lead to amputation. According to the American Diabetes Association, those with diabetes have a risk of foot ulcers as high as 25%. Improper footwear increases that risk.

”There is no such thing as perfect footwear for persons with diabetes mellitus,” says Dr. Ogedengbe. “However, there are shoes which can help prevent or delay the onset of foot ulceration in diabetes. There are also shoes which can cause or help accelerate the development of foot ulceration.”

“Get an evaluation by a foot doctor every year,” Armstrong says. “Doing that alone, just seeing the podiatrist, reduces your risk of getting a wound and then getting amputation by anywhere from 20% to 70%. Proper shoes don’t have to look like Frankenstein shoes,” he says.

After seeing your primary care physician or podiatrist, they may give you a prescription for proper fitting shoes. At Green, we have a wide variety of styles to fit any personality. Our board certified pedorthists will work with you to make sure you have the perfect fit to decrease the likelihood of creating a wound. For more information about diabetic shoes, please contact your local Green Prosthetics & Orthotics office.

Sources: AACE, WebMD