New developments in the biomechanics of the diabetic foot

Peter R. Cavanagh, Jan S. Ulbrecht, Gregory M. Caputo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Biomechanical issues are now widely recognized as being important in the treatment of diabetic foot disease. The purpose of the present review is to identify advances that have occurred since the previous International Conference on the Diabetic Foot in 1995 in the understanding of foot biomechanics in relation to diabetes. Attention continues to be focused on the identification of a threshold plantar pressure that leads to tissue damage. Recent studies have suggested that peak barefoot pressure may be only 65% specific for the development of ulceration. The association between foot deformity and plantar pressure has been the subject of several quantitative studies, but new questions have been raised about the etiology of claw toes. The measurement of shear stress continues to be an elusive goal although several small studies have presented possibly feasible technical approaches. The importance of callus as a precursor to ulceration has been confirmed experimentally and quantitative measures of motor neuropathy have been presented. Although a number of new devices have been introduced as alternatives to the Total Contact Cast, few clinical studies of their efficacy are available yet. New information on the properties of insole materials has been published including data on changes with repeated cycling. Complications of prophylactic surgery have been shown to include a high rate of Charcot fractures. Two new series describing the fixation of such fractures have also been reported. Biomechanical issues have also been addressed in two sets of guidelines for treatment that have recently been published. These many studies confirm the central role of mechanical stress and its relief in the treatment of neuropathic foot problems in diabetes. Copyright (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S6-S10
JournalDiabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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