Diabetes is a disease that is reaching epidemic portions. If you're fortunate to not be diabetic, you surely have a friend or family member who is. Diabetes is even more prevalent in areas with higher Hispanic or Native American populations, such as Houston, TX, due to a genetic predisposition.

Those who know diabetics also have heard some horror stories - people with diabetes needing toes, feet, or even entire legs amputated. Some people first learn of their diabetes when they notice a foot ulcer or infection that will not improve. In these cases it is often too late.

Houston diabetic foot specialist uses diabetic shoes to prevent foot ulcersMedicare and many private insurance companies have started covering special shoes and insoles for diabetics. Although it seems altruistic, they simply have realized that it was less expensive to prevent diabetic foot complications and it is to treat them. But why are diabetic shoes useful in preventing diabetic foot complications?

Diabetes can cause a triad of conditions that contribute to the formation of foot complications. Peripheral neuropathy is a deadening of the nerves, causing a profound numbness. This leads to an inability to inability to send an injury to the foot. For many this type of injury may be insignificant, but the combination of diabetes and peripheral neuropathy can make a simple issue explode out of control.

Compounding the effects of neuropathy are the other two issues: a reduced blood flow to the feet and a compromise of the body's natural defenses. So to look at this practically: everyone knows how irritating it is to have a pebble in your shoe. Someone who cannot feel that pebble because of neuropathy will have pressure from it, which may result in a sore forming - and they wouldn't know unless they look at the bottom of their feet.

The same is true of a simple callus beneath the foot. A callus is a thickening of skin that forms because of increased pressure beneath the weight bearing areas of the foot. A callus often becomes uncomfortable for most people, but not to those with neuropathy. In those cases, the pressure builds and the callus grows until the body can no longer manage it. The pressure causes the skin to break down and causes an ulcer to form

Diabetic shoes are useful to prevent these pressures from reaching a dangerous level. The extra depth in the shoes prevent pressures from foot deformities, such as bunions and hammertoes, from becoming problematic. The molded insole of the diabetic shoe redistributes pressures that form beneath the foot and reduces the chance of forming a pressure ulcer.

How effective are therapeutic shoes for diabetics? While nothing can absolutely prevent a complication from forming, diabetic shoes have proven to significantly reduce the risk. As a result, there are many podiatrists who supply therapeutic shoes in their office. The process to see if you are qualified is simple - just schedule an appointment! Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider at Tanglewood Foot Specialists carry a number of brands and styles of therapeutic shoes, including Aetrex, Dr. Comfort, Orthofeet and many others. Contact our office to see which shoes fit your needs.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.