Effect of peak pressure and pressure gradient on subsurface shear stresses in the neuropathic foot

Dequan Zou, Michael J. Mueller, Donovan J. Lott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

The pressure distribution on the plantar surface of the foot may provide insights into the stresses within the subsurface tissues of patients with diabetes mellitus and peripheral neuropathy (PN) who are at risk for skin breakdown. The purposes of this study were to (1) estimate the stress distribution in the subsurface soft tissue from a measured surface pressure distribution and determine any differences between values in the forefoot and rearfoot, and (2) determine the relationship between maximum shear stress (MSS) (magnitude and depth) and characteristics of the pressure distribution. The measured in-shoe pressure distributions during walking characterized by the peak plantar pressure and maximum pressure gradient on the plantar surface of the feet for 20 subjects with diabetes, PN and history of a mid foot or forefoot plantar ulcer were analyzed. The effects of peak pressure and maximum pressure gradient at the peak pressure location on the stress components in the subsurface soft tissue were studied using a potential function method to estimate the subsurface tissue stress. The calculated MSSs are larger in magnitude and located closer to the surface in the forefoot, where most skin breakdown occurs, compared to the rearfoot. In addition, the MSS (magnitude and depth) is highly correlated with the pressure gradient (r = - 0.77 & 0.61) and the peak pressure (r = - 0.61 & 0.91). The peak pressure and the maximum pressure gradient obtained from the surface pressure distribution appear to be important variables to identify where MSSs are located in the subsurface tissues on the plantar foot that may lead to skin break down.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-890
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 23 2007

Keywords

  • Diabetes
  • Foot ulceration
  • Peak pressure
  • Pressure gradient
  • Shear stress

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