Custom-Made Orthoses Could Prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers

New research on custom-made in-shoe orthoses shows that when foot shape and barefoot plantar pressures are supported, foot ulcers occur less frequently. As wound care podiatrists in Irvine, we know that this is welcome news for many diabetics who suffer from frequent foot wounds and are in search of finding better ways to prevent ulcers.The research, published in Diabetes Care, was done using a random sample size of 150 patients who recently healed their plantar ulcers. The doctor performing the study, Jan Ulbrecht, MD, director of endocrinology and diabetes services at Mount Nittany Health System in State College, Pennsylvania, and her team found a three-fold reduction in recurring ulcers in those who wore the more supportive custom orthoses.

More specifically, the study showed that using custom orthoses that offloaded plantar pressure, when used on a regular basis, reduced the risk of foot wounds in diabetic patients. Although incorporating plantar pressure in the design of orthoses might be easy, it is expensive and costs more than what Medicare typically pays for.

Researchers acknowledge that preventing foot ulcers is a critical part of any diabetic’s treatment regimen. Foot ulcers can often lead to amputations for diabetics, and sometimes increase the risk of morbidity. After a person has his first foot ulcer, the risk of it returning again is extremely high.

Researchers also found that about 40 percent of all foot ulcers occurred on the plantar surface. When custom orthoses reduce plantar pressure, they help reduce the likelihood of foot ulcers occurring in this location on the foot.

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