The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Right Diabetic Shoe

For a person with diabetes, getting the right shoes can make a big difference in comfort and overall health. That's why we've compiled information from top doctors and diabetes organizations to create this ultimate guide to picking the right diabetic shoe. Choosing the right therapeutic or diabetic footwear is different in many ways than picking a non-therapeutic shoe. While you still should consider style and color when selecting a pair, there is a lot more to the decision.

Understanding the Difference Between Diabetic Shoes and "Regular" Shoes

What makes a diabetic shoe unique? Many people wonder how therapeutic shoes will differ from a comfortable pair of sneakers. Here are some of the main characteristics of shoes specifically made for people with diabetes:

  • Higher and/or more flexible toe box for circulation and friction control;
  • Moldable insoles for added comfort;
  • Wider fit to reduce the chance of blistering and aid in circulation;
  • More depth for added stability.

How to Get a Shoe That Fits Just Right (hint: you need a professional shoe fitter)

Getting the right size for your diabetic shoe is very important. Your shoe needs to have enough space for therapeutic inserts and cushioning, but not so much that your foot is insecure and vulnerable to injuries. You should only be fitted for diabetic shoes by someone who is licensed. Without a professional fitting, you will not be able to get Medicare or insurance coverage for your shoes.


Your shoe fitting can be done by:

  • A trained podiatrist;
  • Certified pedorthists (people trained by podiatrists to fit therapeutic shoes);
  • Licensed shoe fitters with specific experience in diabetic footwear.


Experts recommend being fitted for shoes in the afternoon if possible. Since feet swell through the course of a day, this is when feet will be at their largest.

Professional shoe fitters are typically not found in a local shoe store. Instead, you should speak to your doctor about possible options near you. You can also get a house call from one of our trained and licensed fitters across the USA by clicking here.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Diabetic Shoes

It's important to select diabetic shoes that will support your lifestyle while managing and preventing foot conditions. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when picking the perfect pair.

Are they comfortable? We put this one first because it is the most critical question to ask yourself. Simply put, you should pick a shoe where your feet feel right at home. Be mindful of any pinching or constriction, and look out for red spots after wearing new shoes. A bad fitting diabetic shoe can be worse for you than a good-fitting regular shoe. Prevent this problem by making sure you are comfortable in the shoes you pick.

Do I like the look/style? Thinking of wearing non-therapeutic shoes for "just one night"? Think again. We've seen countless serious foot injuries and conditions from people who step out of their therapeutic shoes even briefly, especially if they opt for high heels, loose sandals or tight-fitting dress shoes. It's not worth the risk, especially since there are plenty of stylish or diabetic shoes available. To avoid this issue, make sure you like the look of your diabetic shoes and that the color suits your wardrobe. If you find a brand you like, consider purchasing other pairs for special occasions or different uses, such as formal or athletic shoes.

Are there too many seams?Once you find a style you like, look carefully at the seams. Fewer seams tend to mean less friction, meaning more protection against blisters and other foot issues.

Am I likely to trip and fall in these? Foot injuries from slip and fall accidents can be particularly damaging to people with diabetes, so avoiding an injury should be a priority when picking your shoes. Look for non-slip shoes to prevent these accidents. While a lighter material may be best for most of the shoe, the sole should be sturdy enough to absorb shock and to restrict sliding.

Is there enough room for my diabetic orthotics/insoles? If you plan on using insoles, be sure to pick shoes designed with a bit of extra depth. You should also make sure there is also enough room for your diabetic socks inside the shoe. Discuss these needs with your shoe fitter to ensure the proper recommendation for sizing and type.

Can I fasten them?Many people have health conditions that prevent them from doing up laces. For this reason, many diabetic shoes use elastic lacing or velcro. Find a fastener that works for you, but be mindful to pick one that is secure enough to support the shoe. Slip-on shoes are not typically recommended.

Getting Medicare Coverage for Your Diabetic Shoes

To get your shoes covered by Medicare, you'll need the following:

  • Prescription verifying the need for diabetic shoes (can be from a family doctor)
  • Certification of the need for the shoes from the active doctor treating diabetes (can also be from your family doctor).
  • Receipt from a qualifying supplier (this can be a shoe fitter from No Cost Shoes).


In other words, you need three documents from two medical professionals to get coverage from Medicare. No Cost Shoes is a unique supplier that helps you do this with direct insurance billing for your diabetic shoes. If you are eligible for coverage, we fax the necessary documents to your doctor's office for a signature. Then, a licensed shoe fitter will come to your home and help you get the right shoe. Since we are an approved Medicare supplier, we are able to bill them for all coverage directly and can completely handle the paper trail.