Orthotics are special shoes or heel inserts designed to address foot, leg, or back problems. They help to reduce several foot problems such as flat feet and foot pain. They offer support, absorb shock and provide a cushion-like effect. Orthotics minimize minor pain and prevent severe complications from foot problems, especially for those with diabetes.
Diabetes is a complicated disease that can cause potential damage to the individual’s foot is careless to cause injury or damage to the foot. The foot experiences trauma through frequent contact with the ground. So it requires particular attention. Therefore, it is imperative for the patient to understand proper foot care and how orthotics can help manage diabetes. With the increasing number of people diagnosed with diabetes, the demand for orthotics has grown multi-fold.
Heel inserts are used to reduce foot pain, heel pain, and other minor foot issues. One can buy them over the counter or customize them as per the needs of the patient. Over-the-counter inserts include arch supports inserted into the shoes to help correct overarched or flat feet. Gel insoles provide comfort and relief from foot and heel pain by reducing pressure.
Orthotics are made to order to address more severe foot issues such as plantar fasciitis. If a diabetic patient develops painful calluses or severe foot ulcers, the footwear can be made to mold the foot, thereby providing full support and comfort.
Choosing the Right Orthotics
It is always recommended to consult a podiatrist before using orthotics. Wearing the wrong footwear will only worsen the existing condition. A professional will assess the medical issue and help the patient in choosing the proper footwear. This will enable in reducing the heel pain or any other problem which has to be addressed.
Well-designed footwear is crucial for persons with diabetes, even at the early stage of the disease. There are two ways in which a diabetic individual can be affected when injured in the foot. One is diabetic neuropathy which is a condition when there is a loss of sensation in the foot. It involves nerves, and the individual cannot feel pain when injured.
A foot ulcer due to diabetes will never heal completely. A significant health risk for diabetics is the development of foot ulcers, and the forefoot is the most commonly affected. In such a case, orthotics will reduce the pressure and stress on the foot that may prevent injuries, and eventually avoid foot ulcers.
The other way is when the vascular system gets affected. The lining of blood vessels tends to thicken for a person with diabetes. This means that the blood flow will reduce. If the blood flow to the foot reduces drastically, then the skin and the tissue get affected. These tissues take a long time to heal for a person with diabetes as their immunity gets compromised. If left unchecked, the feet, especially the toes, turn dark and risk developing gangrene and even lead to amputation. However, the extent of the damage reduces by using the appropriate orthotics. Prevention is better than finding a cure. This is where orthotics play a crucial role in preventing foot ulcers and thereby more damage.
Proper Foot Care is Essential
Besides wearing proper footwear, people with diabetes will have to be extra careful about their feet. Even if there are no signs of damage, it is still essential to take precautions against any possible injury or damage to the foot. Avoid walking barefoot even at home. Also, avoid footwear with high heels or shoes with pointed toes. Every day, one must wash the feet and dry them well, paying attention to the areas between the toes. Apply a good moisturizer and wear good-fitting shoes that prevent injury to the foot. Trim the toenails. If the patient is unable to do so by themselves, get a professional to do it.
Conduct a self-check of the feet to ensure they are healthy. If you notice any discoloration, swelling, blisters, or experience numbness, do consult your family doctor or a podiatrist immediately. If the foot has any deformities, it will increase foot pressure. Insoles can help offload such pressure.
Replace the footwear if it is worn out slightly. There must not be any sharp edges that could hurt the feet. Wear diabetic-safe socks that do not have seams that can apply pressure and result in blisters. If possible, it is better to own two or more pairs. Even if one pair gets damaged for whatever reason, the other pair is ready for use. When buying new footwear, take it to the podiatrist to check if it is safe to wear.
If you have diabetes and want to know about orthotics, make an appointment to visit your podiatrist soon.
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