Wrong shoes could be hazardous to your health

18 November 2007


ShoesYou may think that the only health consequence of badly-fitting shoes could be a few blisters or even a twisted ankle.  But now researchers at the University of Dundee have shown that more than six out of ten people with diabetes are walking around in the wrong-sized shoes, potentially leaving themselves vulnerable to serious foot problems that could lead to amputation.

The research is particularly timely as it was World Diabetes day on the 14th of November.  In fact theWorld Health Organization has said that the number of people suffering from diabetes could double to 366 million by 2030 and that 80 per cent of diabetic foot amputations could be prevented.

In the study, a hundred people with diabetes, aged 24 to 89, had their feet examined and measured while they were both sitting and standing. The team found that around two-thirds of the patients were wearing the wrong-sized shoes. For example, 45 per cent were wearing the wrong width fitting, with most being too narrow.

This finding is important, because people with diabetes can have problems with a lack of feeling in their feet.  And nearly half of the patients in the study had experienced previous problems with their feet, including ulcers, callouses, bunions, corns or swelling. Severe ulcers can lead to amputation, and can be caused by badly-fitting shoes.

The researchers say that foot problems for diabetics could be reduced by adults being offered foot-measuring services in shoe shops. They would also like to see manufacturers developing standardised shoe sizes and expanding the range of length and width fittings that they offer, especially for patients who have no feeling in their feet.  The study also raises concerns about patients with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, which also cause foot problems.


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