Predictors of barefoot plantar pressure during walking in patients with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and a history of ulceration

Ruth Barn, Roelof Waaijman, Frans Nollet, James Woodburn, Sicco A. Bus

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Elevated dynamic plantar foot pressures significantly increase the risk of foot ulceration in diabetes mellitus. The aim was to determine which factors predict plantar pressures in a population of diabetic patients who are at high-risk of foot ulceration. Patients with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and a history of ulceration were eligible for inclusion in this cross sectional study. Demographic data, foot structure and function, and disease-related factors were recorded and used as potential predictor variables in the analyses. Barefoot peak pressures during walking were calculated for the heel, midfoot, forefoot, lesser toes, and hallux regions. Potential predictors were investigated using multivariate linear regression analyses. 167 participants with mean age of 63 years contributed 329 feet to the analyses. The regression models were able to predict between 6% (heel) and 41% (midfoot) of the variation in peak plantar pressures. The largest contributing factor in the heel model was glycosylated haemoglobin concentration, in the midfoot Charcot deformity, in the forefoot prominent metatarsal heads, in the lesser toes hammer toe deformity and in the hallux previous ulceration. Variables with local effects (e.g. foot deformity) were stronger predictors of plantar pressure than global features (e.g. body mass, age, gender, or diabetes duration). The presence of local deformity was the largest contributing factor to barefoot dynamic plantar pressure in high-risk diabetic patients and should therefore be adequately managed to reduce plantar pressure and ulcer risk. However, a significant amount of variance is unexplained by the models, which advocates the quantitative measurement of plantar pressures in the clinical risk assessment of the patient
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0117443
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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