Off-loading diabetic shoes promote healing from chronic wounds
When you have a wound, ulcer or other medical issue with your feet, your podiatrist might recommend "off-loading." Off-loading is simply the act of removing pressure and weight from the affected area of the foot. This can be done in a variety of ways, including the use of crutches and wheelchairs. However, a preferred option is the off-loading shoe.
What are off-loading diabetes shoes?
Off-loading diabetes shoes are designed to alleviate pressure on wounds and ulcers. These shoes are designed with a wide toe box and plenty of room for the foot, as well as soft inserts that are designed to cushion and protect the area of the foot that needs treatment. In some cases, special insoles can be worn with a section removed, thus allowing you to walk normally while keeping pressure away from the trouble area.
Other features of the off-loading shoe include:
- Seamless interiors of the shoe, meaning less chance of further injury
- A wide design meant to accommodate dressings on wounds and ulcers
- A sole design that promotes a natural gait, thus reducing pressure on the hip joints
- Reinforced toe covers that are easily removable for access to the injured area
- Reusable insoles that work with the shoe to prevent pressure on recurring ulcers
There are different types of off-loading diabetes shoes, including full-boot versions used to treat chronic wounds that refuse to heal properly. Some shoes allow you to walk normally in them, while others are designed to be used in conjunction with walkers or crutches, and allow for some weight-bearing.
Why can't I just use regular shoes?
Foot pressure is a leading cause of foot ulcers for those with diabetes. If your foot has deformities, the regular pressure your feet are subjected to can make things even worse. According to Podiatry Today, the best way to combat this problem is by maintaining good circulation, controlling infection, keeping wounds clean and treated and off-loading the pressure until a wound has the chance to fully heal. Off-loading is perhaps the most challenging of these four points, but it can make a world of difference in the healing process.
Regular shoes simply don't allow for off-loading. The best shoes for off-loading are those that have been tailored to your foot, or those with insoles that are specifically designed to alleviate pressure on the injured point. Using regular shoes when you have a foot ulcer can actually make the situation worse in a short period of time, leading to further infection and the possibility of amputation. To stay safe and healthy, work with your doctor to seek out off-loading shoes that fit properly.
Podiatry Today, "A Guide to Off-Loading the Diabetic Foot"