Foot care for people with diabetes starts with prevention. Diabetes causes fluctuations in your blood sugar, often oscillating between dangerously high and dangerously low. Appropriate medical and lifestyle management can help to control and stabilize your blood sugar level, reducing the risks of many complications. Preventative foot care for people with diabetes comes in many forms and is as unique as the person themselves.
Daily foot care for people with diabetes starts at home and is an essential component of prevention. Another essential component of prevention is annual foot exams where your level of risk is assessed, and a treatment plan is developed. Part of a treatment plan for many people with diabetes may include specialty socks, custom orthotics and/or footwear.
One of the often-overlooked items in foot care for people with diabetes is socks. Essentially your first line of defence against blisters, cuts, abrasions, and other injuries, socks play a vital role in overall foot health. Diabetic socks incorporate a few key features that reduce your risk of foot complications and maintain a healthy environment for your feet:
- Seamless construction to prevent point pressure or friction within the shoe
- Soft, natural fibres that wick moisture and keep feet warm and dry
- Non-binding elastic cuff to maintain blood flow and avoid restrictions at the ankle
Custom Orthotics VS. Off-The-Shelf Insoles for Diabetes
It is important to distinguish between custom orthotics and “off-the-shelf” or “over-the-counter” insoles for people with diabetes.
Custom Orthotics for Diabetes
Custom orthotics are manufactured specifically for you, using a 3D cast of your foot. Your Pedorthist will design your orthotics with materials and additions specific to your needs and will be able to adjust the support for both your needs and your comfort at any time. Your Pedorthist will also consider your activity level, occupation, footwear, and other factors when designing your orthotics.
A custom orthotic is another tool that can often be useful for people with diabetes. Unlike orthotics for other conditions, where correction or control may be required, orthotics for diabetes require redistribution of pressure along the soles of the feet to reduce areas of high pressure, friction, or shear. Soft, accommodative, full-length orthotics are the most effective at preventing foot injury in people with diabetes.
Off-the-shelf insoles are a prefabricated device, made from an average arch and foot shape. As an off-the-shelf device is not made to the shape of your foot, this can increase the risk of pressure-related foot complications. These insoles often cannot be adjusted or modified to be suitable for specific needs.
For those with very low risk, an off-the-shelf device may be suitable, but for many people with diabetes, an off-the-shelf device may cause more risk than benefit. Custom orthotics provide the best support for people with diabetes, when combined with the right orthopedic footwear and followed up with a regular foot exam. Talk to your Pedorthist about what type of device is right for you.
Consult a Certified Pedorthist
Your Pedorthist can help you reduce your risk for diabetes-related foot complications with footwear advice, modifications to your footwear, custom orthotics or off-the-shelf foot orthoses, stretching and range of motion exercises, and most importantly, annual foot exams. Contact us today to arrange an appointment for a comprehensive assessment by one of our experts!