Plantar pressure distribution patterns during gait in diabetic neuropathy patients with a history of foot ulcers

Bacarin TA, Sacco ICN, Hennig EM.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate and compare the influence of a previous history of foot ulcers on plantar pressure variables during gait of patients with diabetic neuropathy.

INTRODUCTION: Foot ulcers may be an indicator of worsening diabetic neuropathy. However, the behavior of plantar pressure patterns over time and during the progression of neuropathy, especially in patients who have a clinical history of foot ulcers, is still unclear.

METHODS: Subjects were divided into the following groups: control group, 20 subjects; diabetic neuropathy patients without foot ulcers, 17 subjects; and diabetic neuropathy patients with at least one healed foot ulcer within the last year, 10 subjects. Plantar pressure distribution was recorded during barefoot gait using the Pedar-X system.

RESULTS: Neuropathic subjects from both the diabetic neuropathy and DNU groups showed higher plantar pressure than control subjects. At midfoot, the peak pressure was significantly different among all groups: control group (139.4±76.4 kPa), diabetic neuropathy (205.3±118.6 kPa) and DNU (290.7±151.5 kPa) (p=0.008). The pressure-time integral was significantly higher in the ulcerated neuropathic groups at midfoot (CG: 37.3±11.4 kPa.s; DN: 43.3±9.1 kPa.s; DNU: 68.7±36.5 kPa.s; p=0.002) and rearfoot (CG: 83.3±21.2 kPa.s; DN: 94.9±29.4 kPa.s; DNU: 102.5±37.9 kPa.s; p=0.048).

CONCLUSION: A history of foot ulcers in the clinical history of diabetic neuropathy subjects influenced plantar pressure distribution, resulting in an increased load under the midfoot and rearfoot and an increase in the variability of plantar pressure during barefoot gait. The progression of diabetic neuropathy was not found to influence plantar pressure distribution.