Footwear in the causation and prevention of foot ulcers in diabetes mellitus.
Background.: Inappropriate footwear may be a major cause of foot ulceration among patients with diabetic neuropathy in India. No study has specifically examined the types of footwear or its components in patients with diabetes mellitus and their role in causing foot ulcers. We analysed the role of commonly used footwear in India in inducing first foot ulcers (FFU) in people with diabetes.
Methods.: Of 4800 patients with diabetes attending our centre over 1 year, 301 had FFU from different causes. Sixty-six patients with diabetic neuro-/vasculopathy presenting with ulcers due to footwear were included as cases. An equal number of patients with diabetes but without foot ulcers were enrolled as controls. Cases and controls were matched demographically and clinically for type of diabetes, metabolic control, duration of diabetes, comorbid conditions and foot neurovascular status. We did a detailed foot examination for neurological, vascular and wound status. We also evaluated the footwear in both groups.
Results.: In one-fifth of 335 limbs (301 patients), the primary cause for the FFU was use of inappropriate footwear. The patients used seven different models of footwear, six of which were found to be inappropriate. The straps of footwear caused over 50% of ulcers. Another one-third were due to penetration of sharp objects through the outer sole of footwear; among these cases, 1 3.6% of ulcers were caused by not using soft inner soles.
Conclusions.: The use of softer insole is least effective in preventing foot ulcers. Similarly, straps contribute to a higher percentage of foot ulcers. Foot ulcers can be prevented by a combination of soft insole, with midsole and hard outsole with proper back counter and adjustable front and back straps.