Forefoot structural predictors of plantar pressures during walking in people with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy

Michael J. Mueller, Mary Hastings, Paul K. Commean, Kirk E. Smith, Thomas K. Pilgram, Douglas Robertson, Jeffrey Johnson

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108 Scopus citations


Various foot structures are thought to influence forefoot plantar pressures during walking. High peak plantar pressures (PPP) during walking in people with diabetes mellitus (DM) and peripheral neuropathy (PN) can cause skin breakdown. The question addressed by this study is "What are the primary forefoot structural factors that predict regional PPP during walking in groups of people with and without DM and PN?" Twenty people with DM and PN (mean age 55±9 years, 6 female, 14 male, BMI=33±8) and 20 people without DM, matched for gender, age, and BMI were tested. Measures of foot structure were taken from three-dimensional images constructed from spiral X-ray computed tomography. Peak plantar pressure data were recorded during walking. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to predict regional PPP at the great toe and five metatarsal heads from selected structural and walking variables. Metatarsal phalangeal joint angle (hammer toe deformity) was the most important variable predicting pressure, accounting for 19-45% of the PPP variance at five of the six locations in the DM group. Soft tissue thickness, hallux valgus, and forefoot arthropathy were the most important predictors of PPP in the control group. Combinations of structural and walking variables accounted for 47-71% of the variance in the DM group and 52-83% of the variance of PPP during walking in the control group. These structural variables, especially hammer toe deformity, should be considered in attempts to develop strategies to reduce excessive forefoot PPP that may contribute to skin breakdown or other injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009-1017
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Diabetes
  • Foot
  • Function
  • Structure
  • Ulcer


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