Diabetic Shoes

Footwear needs can often be met at everyday shoe stores.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

Have you been left with the impression that you need "diabetic shoes" just because you have diabetes? If so, ask yourself where you got this idea.  Did you get the idea because you watched or heard an advertisement telling you, "If you have Medicare, your diabetic shoes will be covered at no cost to you." Or you may have been in your pharmacy and passed the stand of "diabetic shoes" with a celebrity like George Foreman endorsing these shoes. Or, if you order your diabetes supplies from a mail order supply company, you might have received a flyer or an ad for diabetic shoes.  

Guess what?  Not everybody who has diabetes needs therapeutic or "diabetic" shoes, or even inserts for that matter. And, some people and companies make a lot of money when they convince you that you need them.  That's not to say some people with diabetes don't need them. That is to say there is fraud in this field. It's not right and in the end you do pay.

The facts

There is a Medicare Therapeutic Shoe Bill. It may not be easy to figure out on your own. In 1993, the Therapeutic Shoe Bill was enacted by Congress to provide proper footwear and inserts for people with diabetes.  You don't qualify for this benefit just because you have diabetes. You must also meet one of the following criteria that you have a:

  • Foot deformity
  • History of a partial or complete amputation 
  • History of a previous foot ulcer (sore)
  • History of a pre-ulcerative callus formation
  • Peripheral neuropathy with callus formation
  • Poor circulation

Some of these problems are very clear and very serious, and for some of these, yes, you may need "special" shoes, but not for all of these.  The point is, you have diabetes, and you have some needs, but just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you need these particular shoes or inserts.  There is no need to purchase these directly from mail-order companies or pharmacies even though you need an order from your physician in order to receive them.  Rather understand the universal principles of shoe shopping and then try shopping on your own.

Think you need shoes or inserts?

If you have foot problems, and or think you need therapeutic shoes or insoles, avoid the fraud. Visit a reputable podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in diabetes and feet.  To find a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon near you, first ask your primary care provider to refer you to someone, or visit the dLife Diabetes Locator section of this site.


Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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