Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that many diabetics will suffer at some point during the course of their disease. Even if you’re doing an excellent job of maintaining proper blood glucose levels, the unfortunate truth is that neuropathy is most likely going to catch up with you. The longer you’ve had diabetes, the greater your risk of developing neuropathy.
Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can cause pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness in your feet. In short, your ability to feel your feet is compromised. So it’s really important to protect your feet from injury by wearing the right shoes.
Here are some best footwear-related practices for those living with diabetic neuropathy:
- Never go barefoot, even inside the house. Wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from any sharp objects, hot pavement, or scorching beach sand. Walking barefoot is a great way to pick up a fungus or a virus that may lead to infection.
- Choose shoes that offer excellent support. Anything that easily bends or twists in the middle is not a good choice. Lousy support puts you at risk for twisting an ankle or falling.
- Make sure that your shoes fit well with plenty of toe room. Shoes that cramp the toes or are so loose that your foot slides around can cause irritation and sores. Break in a new pair of shoes gradually to avoid infection-prone blisters.
- Look inside your shoes before you put them on and use your fingers to gently feel for any foreign objects or fabric tears that could irritate or puncture your foot (which you might not even feel).
- And a word about your socks! They should be thick and soft as opposed to thin and slippery. Avoid stockings or anything with a seam.
If you have bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities, you might benefit from a shoe especially designed for diabetics or even custom-made for you. Diabetic footwear is made with special protective inserts to reduce friction and pressure.
Don’t forget to inspect your feet every day for signs of irritation or infection. And, as part of your overall care plan for managing your diabetes, make an appointment at least once a year with board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center. Our number in Centreville, VA is (703) 996-3000.