Diabetes is a pervasive public health challenge. With wide-ranging affects on the health and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide. Among its many diabetic foot complications, include diabetic foot ulcers, infections, and in severe cases, amputations, present a significant concern. As healthcare professionals, it is imperative to recognize the role of adequate foot care. Including the use of foot orthotics and diabetic shoes, as an integral part of diabetes management.
Understanding Diabetic Foot Complications
Diabetic foot complications occur because of the combination of peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage that leads to numbness in the feet) and peripheral artery disease (reduced blood flow to the feet). This duo can cause foot ulcers, infections, and amputations. It’s estimated that 15% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer during their lifetime, and foot complications are the leading cause of hospitalizations among diabetic patients.
Role of Foot Orthotics and Diabetic Shoes
Foot insole for pressure relief
Foot orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts designed to support, align, and improve the function of the foot. They play a vital role in preventing diabetic foot complications in several ways:
1. *Pressure Redistribution:* Foot orthotics distribute pressure evenly across the foot. This can prevent the formation of pressure points and ulcers, particularly in individuals who have lost sensation in their feet due to neuropathy.
2. *Improved Foot Alignment:* By correcting abnormal walking patterns, foot orthotics can help improve balance and reduce the risk of foot ulcers and falls.
3. *Shock Absorption:* Orthotics can also act as shock absorbers, reducing stress and strain on the feet, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes who often have brittle, fragile skin.
Diabetic shoes, also known as therapeutic shoes, are specially designed to reduce the risk of skin breakdown in diabetics with co-existing foot disease. They are typically deeper and wider than regular shoes, allowing room for special insoles or orthotics. The combination of diabetic shoes and custom orthotics can provide the following benefits:
1. *Extra Cushioning: * Diabetic shoes provide additional cushioning to help protect the feet from injury.
2. *Non-Binding Uppers:* The upper part of the shoe is soft and flexible to help prevent pressure points that can lead to blisters and ulcers.
3. *Roomier Toe Box:* A wider toe box allows room for foot deformities like bunions and hammertoes and helps prevent chafing and pressure points.
4. *Rocker Soles:* These soles help to reduce pressure on the ball of the foot and improve foot mechanics.
Preventing Diabetic Amputations
With adequate education and proactive foot care, we can significantly reduce the rates of diabetic foot complications leading to amputations by 80% (WHO 2005). Encourage patients to establish a diabetic self-care foot routine to ensure proper foot care, regular foot examinations by a healthcare professional, good glycemic control, and quit smoking to improve blood flow to the feet.
As healthcare professionals, we play a pivotal role in educating patients about the importance of foot care in managing diabetes. Foot orthotics and diabetic shoes are not just accessories but essential tools in the battle against diabetic foot complications. It’s time for us to step forward and advocate for the widespread use of these preventative measures to reduce the risk of amputations.