Nearly 38 million Americans have diabetes, a chronic disease associated with high levels of blood sugar (glucose). Because it’s chronic, diabetes requires ongoing management to keep its symptoms under control — but even then, unwanted “side effects” can occur.
Specifically, diabetes can take a toll on your circulation and damage your nerves, dramatically increasing your risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers, which are deep sores often resistant to healing. As many as 34% of people with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer at some point during their lives.
As a leading podiatry practice in Waterbury and Newtown, Connecticut, Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLC, offers custom orthotics designed to help patients reduce their risks of developing diabetic foot ulcers and complications. In this post, Stephen Lazaroff, DPM, FACFAS, and Joel S Segalman, FACFAS, FACFAO, review the basics of orthotics and how they work to protect your feet.
Diabetic foot ulcers happen because diabetes affects your nerves, circulation, and immune system. Ulcers often begin from something simple, like a tiny cut, a blister, or an ingrown toenail. Nerve damage due to diabetes makes it harder to feel these wounds, which means you might not get the care you need as soon as you need it.
A weakened immune system makes it easier for harmful germs to enter the wound and trigger an infection. At the same time, reduced circulation in your feet makes it harder for these wounds to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to heal. All these factors increase your risk of developing an ulcer and having an infection as a result.
People with diabetes who have foot ulcers may not respond to traditional treatments with antibiotics and bandages. Some wounds become so severe that they lead to lower limb amputations.
Custom orthotics are special inserts that slip inside your shoes, and they can be effective in preventing foot ulcers and managing sores once they occur. Unlike over-the-counter shoe inserts made for the general population, custom orthotics — created for one person —use advanced technology and state-of-the-art materials.
Custom orthotics relieve pressure and distribute your weight more evenly, avoiding sores caused by pressure points and preventing friction and other issues that can lead to sores. Studies show custom orthotics effectively manage diabetic foot problems, including ulcers and nerve-related problems.
If we decide orthotics are a good choice for you, we evaluate your feet, balance, and gait (how you walk). Then, we create a highly detailed model or rendering of your feet. The rendering gets sent to a lab along with precise measurements and instructions. Once your orthotics are ready, you return to the office for a final fitting and adjustment.
Whether you have foot problems or are at risk of developing them, custom orthotics can help. To learn more about orthotics and the role they play in your diabetes management plan, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists today.