Diabetes Patients: Shoe Snafu

Study: Most Diabetes Patients Wear Ill-Fitting Shoes, Which May Worsen Diabetes Foot Problems

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on November 14, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 14, 2007 -- If you have diabetes, your shoe wardrobe may need a makeover -- and we're talking shoe size, not footwear fashion.

Only one in three adults with diabetes wears shoes that fit properly, a new British study shows.

The researchers measured the feet and shoes of 100 adults with diabetes at a diabetes clinic.

The patients got their feet measured while sitting and standing, because when people stand, their feet broaden and lengthen a bit.

The results: 24% had the right size shoe while seated, 20% while standing, and only 17% had the right shoe size while sitting and standing.

Their shoes tended to be too short and too narrow for their feet.

The patients also admitted that they don't check their feet often (or in some cases, ever), note the University of Dundee's Graham Leese, MD, and colleagues.

(When was the last time you had your feet measured for shoes? Is there a brand that works best for you? Talk about it with others on WebMD's Type 2 Diabetes Support Group board.)

Diabetes and Feet

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet. Diabetes patients should check their feet daily, notes the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

In Leese's study, 7% of the patients had diabetic foot ulcers and 20% had sensory nerve problems in their feet.

But all patients -- including those with no foot problems -- tended to have poorly fitting shoes. The reasons why aren't clear.

Some may not have known their true shoe size. Others may have settled for the wrong shoe width to get the right shoe length, or vice versa. And fashion may have motivated others.

A related editorial includes these suggestions:

  • Diabetes patients: Get your shoe size checked.
  • Diabetes doctors: Talk to patients about footwear as part of diabetes foot care.
  • Shoe sellers: Step up shoe-sizing service and note the market for wider shoes.

Andrea Parnes, BSc, a podiatrist at the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland, wrote the editorial, which appears with Leese's study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Harrison, S. International Journal of Clinical Practice, November 2007; vol 61: pp 1900-1904. National Institute on Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Prevent Diabetes Problems: Keep Your Feet and Skin Healthy." Parnes, A. International Journal of Clinical Practice, November 2007; vol 61: pp 1779-1790.

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