Prefab or Custom, Insoles Good at Reducing Pressure on Feet

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Good news for people with diabetes who worry about protecting themselves against the plantar pressure and risks of ulcerous foot injuries that come with diabetic neuropathy: A recent British study shows that ready-made insoles you can buy at the store perform almost as well as more expensive custom-made insoles at achieving those foot protection goals.

Researchers randomly assigned prefabricated and custom-made insoles to 119 patients who had diabetic neuropathy. Measurements were taken at the time the patients began using the insoles, and then again after six months. Those measurements included the peak pressure exerted on the feet while walking and its duration. Patients’ general foot health, insole expenses, and overall quality of life were also factored in.

The study found no significant differences between custom-made and ready-made insoles when it came to reducing peak pressure on the foot. The only notable difference they reported was that  custom insoles were slightly more effective in reducing the duration of pressure on the forefoot. 

Diabetic neuropathy, which affects almost half of all people with diabetes, is damage to the nerves caused by high blood sugar levels. While the condition can affect different parts of the body, including the skin and hands, its most worrisome occurrence is in the lower legs and feet. 

Because neuropathy deadens sensation, a person with it can sustain a significant foot or leg injury and not realize the extent of the damage. That lack of sensation, coupled with the slower healing times that result from diabetes, can lead to wounds that later become gangrenous.  

For more information on the report, a PDF is available. 

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