Ill-Fitting Shoes a Danger to Diabetics

MONDAY Nov. 19, 2007 -- Something as simple as wearing the wrong size of shoes can put diabetics at risk of serious foot problems that could lead to amputation, Scottish researchers say.

The study, by a team at the University of Dundee, included 100 diabetes patients, ages 24 to 89, who had their feet examined and measured while they were sitting and standing.

The researchers found that 63 percent of the patients wore the wrong size of shoes. For example, 45 percent of the patients wore shoes that weren't the proper width, with most of them being too narrow.

"When people stand up, their feet change shape as the arch of the foot flattens and the foot becomes wider and longer. Taking both these sets of measurements (sitting and standing) into account, only 37 percent of the patients were actually wearing the right-sized shoes," study co-author Dr. Graham Leese said in a prepared statement.

"Interestingly, patients who didn't have problems with lack of feeling in their feet -- a common problem with diabetics -- were just as likely to wear badly fitting shoes as those who did (have feeling in their feet)," Leese said. "We also discovered that almost a third of the patients said they took a different shoe size to the one they were actually wearing. This isn't helped by the fact that shoe sizes vary from make to make."

The researchers said shoe manufacturers should develop standardized shoe sizes and expand the range of shoe length and width fittings. Shoe stores should also offer foot-measuring services.

The study, reported in the November issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice, also found that 45 percent of the patients had experienced previous problems with their feet, including ulcers, calluses, bunions, corns or swelling, but only 29 percent checked their feet daily, and 22 percent never checked their feet.

Diabetes-related foot ulcers can have serious consequences for patients, including impaired quality of life, and increased risk of amputation and death.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about diabetes and foot care.

Posted: November 2007


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