Shoes for diabetic patients are made of special protective inserts and soft shoe materials to accommodate for conditions such as neuropathy (numb feet), poor circulation, and foot deformities (bunions, hammertoes, etc.). The shoes decrease the chance of foot sores (ulcers) which can be caused by friction and pressure. This may lead to infection, gangrene, or even amputation.
The foot and ankle surgeon may measure the diabetic patient's foot and have the shoes made at a specialty laboratory. In some cases he/she will give the patient a prescription to have the shoes custom-made.
For more information on how diabetes affects your feet, listen to the Diabetes and Your Feet podcast or read more at Diabetic Complications and Amputation Prevention, Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy, Diabetic Foot Care Guidelines.