If you have diabetes, you know you're susceptible to foot ulcers that can lead to infections and amputations. Wearing custom-made footwear is associated with a reduced incidence of foot sores among people with diabetes. The special shoes are designed to fit softly around sore feet to help prevent foot injuries.

But many people are lax when it comes to wearing their prescribed shoes. A recent study reports that patients who have diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) and previously had a foot sore wear their custom-made shoes in their homes only 61 percent of the time, likely favoring comfort over protection.

The patients fared better outside the home, when they donned their shoes 87 percent of the time. Unfortunately, though, the patients tended to walk more when at home.

The researchers calculated that, on average, 29 percent of the patients' total daily steps were taken without wearing custom shoes. If you have custom shoes you're not consistently wearing, consider this:

Each year, nearly 66,000 Americans lose a lower limb because of diabetes complications.

One solution to non-adherence, say the study authors, may be to focus future research on developing more comfortable shoes for indoor wear.

High Tech Foot Care for the Future

Podiatrists are developing high-tech tools to better monitor the feet of people with diabetes. In the future, fiber optic sensors in socks may be able to identify "hot spots" or pressure points before blisters form. If a pebble or piece of debris has worked its way into the shoe, special insoles may be able to alert a person's smart phone.

Source: Diabetes Care, published online 1/15/13; our sister publication Diabetes Focus Spring 2014; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50 and updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 21 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 31 Jul 2014