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Diabetic Shoes: Importance of Footwear in Preventing Amputations

Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires careful management to prevent complications. Among the many challenges faced by individuals with diabetes, foot health stands out as a critical aspect that often gets overlooked. Diabetes can lead to various foot-related issues, and in severe cases, may even result in amputations. In fact, that American Diabetes Association states that diabetes-related amputations comprise up to 80% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. 1 However, one effective and often underestimated solution to prevent such drastic measures is the use of diabetic shoes.

Diabetic shoes are specially designed to address the unique needs of individuals with diabetes, providing a level of protection that regular shoes often lack. Just like an ice skater wouldn’t be well-served and could experience injury if they wore soccer cleats to perform on the ice, a diabetic individual’s needs are often not met and even undermined by the average pair of shoes. Here are a few key reasons why diabetic shoes play a crucial role in preventing amputations:

  • Pressure Redistribution: Diabetic shoes are designed with extra depth and width to accommodate custom insoles. These insoles help redistribute pressure evenly across the foot, reducing the risk of developing ulcers and hotspots that can lead to infections. 2
  • Shock Absorption: The extra cushioning in diabetic shoes serves as a shock absorber, protecting the feet from the impact of walking. This is particularly important for individuals with diabetes who may experience reduced sensation in their feet and are less likely to notice small injuries. 3
  • Reduced Friction: Diabetic shoes are crafted from materials that minimize friction against the skin. Friction can lead to blisters and calluses, which, if left untreated, may progress to more severe complications, including ulceration.
  • Breathability: Proper ventilation is crucial for maintaining foot health. Diabetic shoes are designed with breathable materials that help prevent moisture buildup, reducing the risk of fungal infections and skin breakdown.
  • Protection Against Infections: The compromised immune system and impaired circulation associated with diabetes make individuals more susceptible to infections. 4   Diabetic shoes provide a protective barrier, reducing the likelihood of cuts and abrasions that could lead to serious infections. 
  • Accommodating Foot Deformities: Diabetes can contribute to foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes. Diabetic shoes are designed to accommodate these deformities, minimizing pressure points and preventing further complications.

In the battle against diabetes-related complications, preventive measures are key. Diabetic shoes stand as a frontline defense against foot issues that, if left unaddressed, could lead to devastating consequences such as amputations. Investing in proper footwear is a proactive step individuals with diabetes can take to safeguard their foot health, enhancing their overall quality of life and reducing the risk of severe complications. 

Check out these additional resources on ways you can be hands-on in preventing diabetes related amputations: 


  1. Amputation Prevention Alliance by the American Diabetes Association.
  1. Zhang X, Wang H, Du C, Fan X, Cui L, Chen H, Deng F, Tong Q, He M, Yang M, Tan X, Li L, Liang Z, Chen Y, Chen D, Armstrong DG, Deng W. Custom-Molded Offloading Footwear Effectively Prevents Recurrence and Amputation, and Lowers Mortality Rates in High-Risk Diabetic Foot Patients: A Multicenter, Prospective Observational Study. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2022 Jan 10;15:103-109. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S341364. PMID: 35046681; PMCID: PMC8759996.

  1. Hicks CW, Selvin E. Epidemiology of Peripheral Neuropathy and Lower Extremity Disease in Diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2019 Aug 27;19(10):86. doi: 10.1007/s11892-019-1212-8. PMID: 31456118; PMCID: PMC6755905.

  1. Boulton AJ. The diabetic foot: from art to science. The 18th Camillo Golgi lecture. Diabetologia. 2004 Aug;47(8):1343-53. doi: 10.1007/s00125-004-1463-y. Epub 2004 Jul 28. PMID: 15309286.

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