Do I Need Diabetic Shoes and Where Can I Find Them? (2024)

Overview

Poorly controlled blood sugar can damage many parts of the body, including the nerves and vessels that go to the feet. Because of this, people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing foot problems. Wearing specially designed shoes can help reduce risk and promote healthy circulation in your feet. Read on to find out more about shoes designed for people with diabetes and whether you might need them.

High blood sugar contributes to poor blood circulation. It can also damage nerves in your feet, a condition called neuropathy. Neuropathy can cause you to lose feeling in your feet, which may make it difficult for you to realize if you cut yourself or injure your foot. If you leave a cut untreated, it can lead to an infection. Poor circulation can make it difficult to heal cuts and infections.

Diabetic foot pain and ulcers: Causes and treatments »

You might develop open sores on your toes or the bottom of your feet. You may also develop calluses, or thick areas of hardened skin. The following are all more likely to occur in people with diabetes:

  • bunions
  • corns
  • fungal infections
  • gangrene

Nerve damage can also change the shape of your feet. People with diabetes are more likely to develop hammertoe, which is a deformity that causes the toe joints to bend inward.

Even foot problems that might seem insignificant, like blisters or athlete’s foot, can be a cause of concern if you have diabetes. Because of poor circulation to the area, any foot problem will take longer to heal and may instead compound and grow into a dangerous infection that can progress and lead to amputations if not correctly treated. That’s why any foot issues should be called to the attention of your doctor if you have diabetes.

Foot injuries and changes to the foot’s shape can make your regular shoes feel uncomfortable. Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can put you at risk for foot problems, or make your foot problems even worse. Don’t try to squeeze your feet into uncomfortable shoes. Instead, ask your doctor or podiatrist about special shoes made for people with diabetes. By wearing the right shoes, you’ll be more comfortable and you’ll keep your feet healthier.

If your diabetes is under control and you don’t have any real foot problems, a comfortable, well-fitting shoe may be all you need. But if you do develop any foot problems, your doctor might recommend one of these shoe options:

In-depth shoes

In-depth shoes are 1/4 to 1/2 inch deeper than normal shoes. The extra room can accommodate foot changes like calluses or hammertoes. In-depth shoes also leave enough room for inserts if you need them.

Healing shoes

Healing shoes are worn while you recover from foot sores or foot surgery. They come in open sandals or closed-toe versions. Generally, open-toed shoes aren’t recommended for people with diabetes unless ordered by your doctor.

Custom-made shoes

Custom-made shoes are created from a mold of your foot. This type of shoe may be an option if your feet have a deformity.

In general, therapeutic shoes are specifically designed to keep your feet healthy if you have neuropathy, nerve damage, or an existing foot injury.

Orthopedic shoes are shoes designed to give more comfort to those with bunions, corns, or other foot problems. Not everyone who wears orthopedic shoes has diabetes. A great variety of orthopedic shoes are available, no matter what style of shoe or type of sole you prefer.

In addition to buying new shoes, you can also modify shoes you already own. For example, you might add a thicker, more shock-absorbent sole. You could also add orthotics. These are footpads or inserts placed inside your shoes to take pressure off of your feet and provide added comfort.

Start with a visit to your primary care doctor, endocrinologist, or podiatrist, who can check your feet and recommend the right shoe. You might also see a specialist to get fitted. An orthotist is a medical practitioner that can design, prescribe, and make diabetes footwear. A pedorthist is trained to fit and modify shoes.

A specialist might order your shoes for you, or you may get them through a pharmacy, online store, or specialty shoe store. Medicare will cover the cost for one pair of therapeutic shoes if your doctor prescribes them. Check with your insurance provider to learn more about your coverage.

Dr. Comfort, Hush Puppies, and Prophet are well-known brands that manufacture therapeutic and orthopedic shoes. Shoes with the American Medical Association’s Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code A5500 or A5501 are classified as diabetic footwear and may be covered by Medicare or your health insurance provider. The sneaker brand New Balance also makes shoes with these codes.

Finding a good shoe is important if you have diabetes. Below are some tips that may help.

When you buy

  1. Look for a lightweight shoe that lets your feet move and breathe.
  2. Choose a flexible material, such as leather, canvas, or suede.
  3. Remember that a good diabetic shoe should have a shock-absorbing sole, which will help relieve pressure on the bottom of your foot.
  4. Pick shoes with laces that you can loosen or tighten. This makes it easier to accommodate any swelling or changes in your feet over time.
  5. Keep in mind that the shoe should also have a solid back to provide extra support.

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It’s also important to find a shoe that fits well and matches the shape of your foot. You don’t want your foot sliding around inside the shoe. This can cause blisters, sores, and calluses, which can be dangerous for a person with diabetes.

Additionally, choose a shoe that can accommodate changes in your feet, such as hammertoes.

To find just the right fit for your feet, see a specialist for a fitting whenever you buy new shoes. Be sure to wear the same socks you’ll normally wear with these shoes to ensure proper fit.

Shoes to avoid

If you have diabetes, you should avoid wearing certain types of shoes:

  • Avoid any shoe with a pointed toe because it will aggravate your toes and restrict circulation.
  • Don’t wear shoes without arch support, as they may lead to the breakdown of tissue in your foot.
  • Be careful to avoid shoes that don’t fit properly, as those could injure your feet.
  • Wear high heels sparingly it all. If you do wear high heels, round-toe styles with heels below 2 inches are best.

Diabetic socks

Diabetic socks are socks that don’t constrict the foot and are designed to promote healthy circulation. Most brands don’t contain elastic, and some brands are moisture-wicking. Diabetic socks that keep the foot dry can help prevent infection. The following are brands of different diabetic socks:

  • Truform
  • Dr. Comfort
  • Activa
  • Drymax

For the most part, diabetic socks can be made to look like regular socks and come in many different lengths, colors, and styles.

If you don’t want to purchase socks specifically made for people with diabetes, look for regular socks made with moisture-wicking fabric. Be careful of rough seams along your sock’s toe area, which could lead to blistering, and buy socks that come above the ankle for this same reason. Avoid compression socks, which will have a negative effect on the circulation in your feet.

For the right fit

  • Get your feet measured every time you try on shoes because they can grow.
  • Buy shoes in the afternoon. This is when your feet tend to swell.
  • When you’re trying on new shoes, wear the same socks or stockings you plan to wear with the shoes.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of room in the shoe for your instep and the ball of your foot.
  • Allow an extra 3/8 to 1/2 inch of room between your toes and the top of the shoe.
  • Make sure your shoes fit snugly around your heels.

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If you’re able to purchase two pairs of therapeutic shoes, it’s a good idea to alternate between them. This will preserve the shock absorption and prolong the lifespan of both pairs of shoes. Once the heels of the shoe begin to wear down, or if one side of a shoe starts to collapse, stop wearing that pair and transition to a new pair. Wearing worn-out therapeutic shoes defeats the purpose of having them.

In general, most insurance companies will replace a pair of diabetic shoes every two years. Diabetic shoes that are worn daily will generally need replacing by that time.

Getting new shoes is just one way for people with diabetes to care for their feet. You should also see your podiatrist for annual checkups and take good care of your feet every day to help keep them in top shape.

Even if you’re wearing diabetic shoes, follow these tips to make sure your feet are healthy:

  • Check your feet every day to make sure there are no developing sores, ulcers, or calluses.
  • Trim your toenails regularly, making sure to cut straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.
  • Smooth your corns and calluses gently with a pumice stone or an exfoliating foot scrub.
  • Avoid using razors or other sharp tools on your feet.
  • Wash your feet daily with warm water to promote circulation.
Do I Need Diabetic Shoes and Where Can I Find Them? (2024)

FAQs

Do I Need Diabetic Shoes and Where Can I Find Them? ›

The doctor who treats your diabetes must certify your need for therapeutic shoes or inserts. A podiatrist (foot doctor) or other qualified doctor must prescribe the shoes or inserts, and you must get the shoes or inserts from one of these: A podiatrist.

How to get diabetic shoes for free? ›

Most patients with diabetes qualify for footwear and inserts under the Medicare Therapeutic Shoe Bill. Medicare covers patients for one pair of shoes and three inserts per year.

What qualifies you for diabetic shoes? ›

The certifying physician has documented in the beneficiary's medical record one or more of the following conditions: Previous amputation of the other foot, or part of either foot, or. History of previous foot ulceration of either foot, or. History of pre-ulcerative calluses of either foot, or.

Does Medicare still pay for diabetic shoes? ›

Medicare pays only for therapeutic footwear from Medicare-approved suppliers, reimbursing 80% of the cost either to the patient or after the Part B deductible is met. The patient is responsible for the other 20% -- or more if the supplier does not "accept assignment" from Medicare.

What brand of shoe is best for diabetics? ›

Running and diabetes don't always go hand-in-hand, as the impact and repetitive motion is hard on your feet. But for those who want to hit the pavement without worrying about foot ulcers and subsequent wounds, the Adidas Ultraboost Light offers a shocking amount of stability for its lightweight construction.

How much does diabetic shoes cost? ›

Diabetic shoes can be costly because they're specialty shoes and need to be custom-fitted for your feet. On average, diabetic shoes can range in cost from $50-$200 per pair. Your out-of-pocket costs may depend on several factors: Any existing insurance you may have.

Can diabetics wear regular shoes? ›

Steer clear of tight or constricting footwear: Tight shoes can cause circulation problems, leading to poor wound healing in diabetic patients. Avoid shoes that squeeze your feet or have tight straps. No flip-flops or open-toed shoes: Flip-flops and open-toed shoes provide minimal protection and support.

Who can write prescription for diabetic shoes? ›

A physician who is a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy who is responsible for diagnosing and treating the patient's diabetic systemic condition through a comprehensive plan of care, as well as podiatrists or other qualified physicians knowledgeable in fitting diabetic shoes.

What is the difference in diabetic shoes and regular shoes? ›

It is generally an oxford-type or athletic shoe with an additional 1/4- to 1/2-inch of depth throughout the shoe, allowing extra volume to accommodate any needed inserts or orthoses, as well as deformities commonly associated with a diabetic foot.

Are orthopedic shoes and diabetic shoes the same? ›

Orthopedic shoes are not just designed for diabetics, but they provide foot support and protection for people with bunions, corns, or other foot problems. If your foot problems aren't too severe, you can find a wide variety of orthopedic shoes in a store or online.

What do diabetics get free? ›

How to get free prescriptions for diabetes medicine. If you take diabetes medicine, you're entitled to free prescriptions for all your medicines, including medicines for other conditions. To claim your free prescriptions, you'll need to apply for an exemption certificate.

Will insurance cover diabetic shoes? ›

HOW TO GET YOUR DIABETIC SHOES THROUGH YOUR INSURANCE: If you are diabetic and have Medicare and Medicaid, you could be eligible for a pair of shoes and 3 pairs of moldable insoles. It is that easy! All you have to do is bring in your insurance cards and a prescription from your doctor.

Do diabetics get free foot care? ›

Everyone with diabetes should have an annual foot check.

Your foot check is part of your annual review, which means you should have it as part of your diabetes care and it's free on the NHS. This is because you're more likely to have serious foot problems and these can lead to amputations.

Are Skechers shoes good for diabetics? ›

The Skechers Go Walk shoe line has earned high praise among our EatingWell editors, and it's easy to see why. These comfy walking shoes come in a variety of colors and styles, from slip-on to laced to loafer-like pairs.

Are Crocs good for diabetic feet? ›

For people with diabetes, Crocs offer added value in the protection they provide. Because people with diabetes have reduced circulation in their feet, Glickman says, they're at higher risk for open sores and wound infection. The spare room and antibacterial properties of Crocs help combat these problems.

Are Hoka shoes good for diabetic feet? ›

One of Dr. Cunha's favorite brands to recommend to patients with diabetes is Hoka.

Is there a way to get free diabetic supplies? ›

People who don't have insurance coverage for prescriptions may find their medicines and supplies for free or at low cost through PPARX.org. RxAssist.org lists drug-company assistance programs, state programs, discount drug cards, copay help, and more.

Are diabetic shoes covered by United Healthcare? ›

Notes: o A pair of therapeutic shoes is covered even if only one foot suffers from diabetic foot disease (each shoe is equally equipped so that the affected limb, as well as the remaining limb, is protected). o Specialized footwear, including Foot Orthotics and custom-made or standard orthopedic shoes, is only covered ...

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