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Recognizing the Prevalence of Changing Adult Foot Size

An Opportunity to Prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

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  • 1 At the time of the study, Dr. Connolly was with White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, VT.
  • | 2 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
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Ill-fitting shoes may precipitate up to half of all diabetes-related amputations and are often cited as a leading cause of diabetic foot ulcers (DFU), with those patients being 5 to 10 times more likely to present wearing improperly fitting shoes. Among patients with prior DFU, those who self-select their shoe wear are at a three-fold risk for reulceration at 3 years versus those patients wearing prescribed shoes. Properly designed and fitted shoes should then address much of this problem, but evidence supporting the benefit of therapeutic shoe programs is inconclusive. The current study, performed in a male veteran population, is the first such effort to examine the prevalence and extent of change in foot length affecting individuals following skeletal maturity. Nearly half of all participants in our study experienced a ≥1 shoe size change in foot length during adulthood. We suggest that these often unrecognized changes may explain the broad use of improperly sized shoe wear, and its associated sequelae such as DFU and amputation. Regular clinical assessment of shoe fit in at-risk populations is therefore also strongly recommended as part of a comprehensive amputation prevention program.

Corresponding author: John E. Connolly, DPM, PO Box 255, Etna, NH 03750. (E-mail: john.e.connolly@hotmail.com)