I Don't Want To Wear Ugly Shoes! Especially During The Holidays!

Diabetes does not have to limit your choice of footwear.

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

Have you ever heard yourself say or think, "I have diabetes and I don't want to wear ugly shoes?"  Well, maybe you don't have to…at least ALL the time.

Okay, let's face it, having diabetes ain't easy.  We all want to look nice. There's nothing like a good-looking pair of shoes to finish the outfit. Or, a bad-looking pair of shoes to "finish the outfit." 

So many people are overwhelmed with all the lifestyle changes they must go through when diabetes hits.  What most people don't realize is that included in the lifestyle changes may be some fashion changes, especially when it comes to shoes.  I've had one patient say to me, "Joy, I'll see you to learn more about taking care of my diabetes, but I won't go to that foot doctor because he'll give me those ugly shoes." What she didn't realize was that seeing the foot doctor (podiatrist) was taking care of her diabetes and no, she didn't HAVE to get ugly shoes.  Neither do you.

Do you think you are supposed to wear ugly shoes if you have diabetes?  Only you can answer that question. We hope we can show you that no, you don't have to wear ugly shoes, teach you how to choose proper fitting shoes, and give you some good-looking options.  I've asked an internally known and respected certified pedorthist, Dennis Janisse to help me help you.

Let's first take a little peek into the history of shoes.  In the beginning shoes were made for the feet of human beings. The human foot is different from any other foot on this earth.  We are the only mammals that are made to walk upright.  This puts a lot of stress on our feet.  Our feet not only experience the stress of the weight of our bodies, but also other mechanical stresses, including exposure to foreign objects and temperature changes. 

Even though shoes were first designed to protect us from outside sources, shoes themselves are foreign objects to our feet.  Not only do shoes protect our feet, shoes also cause many foot problems. Besides discomfort, Dennis Janisse, CPed, tells us that ill-fitting shoes can also cause…

  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Callouses
  • Blisters
  • In severe cases, ulcerations (sores)

You may wonder why this is any different for people with diabetes than for people who don't have diabetes.  The reason is diabetes can affect your nerves and your circulation.  If either or both of these are affected, you may lose the sense of feeling in your feet.  You may be wearing a pair of shoes that is rubbing an area on your foot all day and not feel it.  People who don't have diabetes, and have no problem with their circulation and sense of touch, would feel that rub early and know to take those shoes off and put on another pair that doesn't rub.  Many times the sense of pain protects us.  If you have lost even some sense of feeling, you may not have the signal that tells you to take that shoe off and put on a pair that won't hurt your feet. If you wear those shoes too long, a sore can develop.  Diabetes can make it harder for a wound to heal, especially in the foot area. This loss of protective sensation or feeling is one reason there is a higher incidence of amputations for people who have diabetes than for people who don't have diabetes.

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Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

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