There once was a buddha, who said that the foot can only feel the foot, once it feels the ground. Imagine if you wouldn’t be able to feel the ground anymore? The feeling of that solid piece of matter down below your feet, making you feel like you’re standing sturdily on something. Or the feeling of grass blades in between your toes when you’re in nature. Or the feeling of sand between your toes when you’re walking on the beach? Most healthy people take this stuff for granted. But for many people who have diabetes, numb feet is a serious problem as a result of their diabetes.
In 2014, there was a National Diabetes Statistics Report released, which had surveyed 29 million people in the US, who have diabetes and 86 million adults of 20 years and older, who are barreling down the path of developing full blown diabetes. That’s a total of 115 million. That’s pretty bad, if you consider that there are around 315 million people in the US. We’re a country where about a third of us either have diabetes or are on their way to developing it.
Diabetes & The Feet
So what exactly is up with diabetes and the connection to feet? Well, it turns out that diabetes can cause serious foot problem in 2 different ways:
- Reduced blood flow, which is caused by small blood vessel damage in your feet and legs.
- Insensitivity or numbness, leading to the inability to feel pain, heat or cold, thanks to diabetic neuropathy (damage to the nerves), which is the result from high blood sugar levels.
As a result of all this, you can develop ingrown toe nails, punctures, blisters, small cuts, etc. These can all happen without your knowledge of it, even. And if you have diabetes and you’ve got some of these seemingly harmless conditions, then they can actually turn into quite serious conditions, such as ulceration or infection. If this problem is not addressed in time, then this can cause amputation in the worst case.
Diabetes is one of the worst things you can have within the context of your foot health. It can be way worse than plantar fasciitis, or Morton’s neuroma. These two conditions are horribly painful. But having to lose a foot to amputation because of diabetes is even worse!
For this reason, it helps to examine your feet daily when you are diabetic. There are, however, a number of myths surrounding diabetic feet and footwear. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?
1. All Shoes Protect Our Feet Equally Well
Guess again, Sparky. If you’ve got shoes that don’t fit properly, then you’re going to have an excrutiating bad time. Especially if you’re a diabetic.
The problem with the human foot is that it is a very dynamic mechanism. Sometimes, our feet can lengthen by up to 1 whole shoe size when we put our weight on them. THey can also widen by a whole width size, in case you didn’t know. When we take a step, the contact with the ground can vary from 30% to 60% of the foot’s surface.
But our shoes are static things. They are unable to contract and expand the way that our feet can, which are made of biological tissue. So if you’ve got heel pain, sore feet, calluses, sore pressure points or blisters, then this is what might cause it.
You need to find good diabetic shoes in order to accommodate your diabetic feet.
2. All Socks Protect Our Feet Equally Well
This is simply not true. There are many kinds of socks and many kinds of sock brands. Not all of them will protect your diabetic feet equally.
You need socks for a diabetic foot. These kinds of socks were made to reduce friction that your foot normally has while you are using it for walking about and stuff. They also do good job of lessening pressure and pounding. They’ve gotta be shock absorbing shoes, if you will. In the ideal case, they’ll also wick away moisture from your feet also as well too. Yeah that’s right. I wrote also as well too. So what?
A good material for diabetic socks is acrylic, or acrylic fiber. This materials works very well in keeping moisture away from the skin of your diabetic feet. Wool and cotton have the tendency to absorb moisture, which will increase friction. So these materials are a great idea to stay away from.
3. Our Feet Are Perfectly Symmetrical
Everybody likes to think of themselves as oh so special. Most of us assume we have two feet which are exactly the same. Turns out that most of us have mismatched feet. That probably means you too, my dear reader. But since most of us have mismatched feet, at least you can comfort yourself knowing that you’re not the only one out there.
For most people, there are differences in the girth of the foot. Lengths, volumes, widths… it’s all different with everybody. And it is these variations from foot to foot that can cause problems with our footwear. Because footwear manufacturers are always making perfectly symmetrical shoes, assuming that everybody’s feet are exactly equal. This is an inaccurate assumption, ofcourse. But what other assumption are they supposed to make?
Sizing issues can vary from one brand to the next. They can even vary from one shoe style to the next. And sometimes, they can even vary between geographic regions.
What Causes Foot Problems?
Most of the shoes we wear, are pretty rigid and will restrict some of the natural mechanisms of our feet. When we perform activities, such as walking or standing, on hard concrete or asphalt surfaces, then we are at risk of developing health problems. This is especially true if you have diabetes.
But it’s not just diabetic feet that are at risk of developing problems. Healthy feet also expand and contract during the normal activities of our lives, such as walking and standing. When we exercise we put even more stress on our feet. Running is especially well known for creating lots of stress on the feet. It creates lots of pressure, shocks, friction and also generate moisture.
Sweat is a natural cooling mechanism. But moisture creates friction as well. This opens up the possibility of creating blisters.
Moisture isn’t a requirement for creating friction. Ill fitting shoes, or properly tying your shoes, can also lead to unnecessary friction, which in turn will then lead to unnecessary blisters, corns, calluses and bunions.
We have fat pads on the bottom of our feet. These absorb shocks and protect our feet from taking too much of a pounding. However, the pads themselves can become damaged as time goes on and we grow older. The fat pads often dissipate, giving us less foot protection.
Most people take their healthy feet for granted. But make no mistake. They are a delicate piece of machinery, that can develop all sorts of health related problems. If you don’t ever want to develop foot problems, then make sure to prevent diabetes at all costs!