Is it how they walk? Biomechanics in diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a review of the literature

Fernando, Malindu, Crowther, Robert, Lazzarini, Peter, Sangla, Kunwarjit, Cunningham, Margaret, and Golledge, Jonathan (2013) Is it how they walk? Biomechanics in diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a review of the literature. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 6 (Suppl 1). p. 4.

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Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) affects the sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous system. The biomechanical changes resulting from DPN may translate to increased plantar pressures in the foot, which contributes to the pathogenesis and development of foot ulcers. This review aims to investigate the existing biomechanical literature associated with gait, dynamic electromyography and plantar pressure of patients with DPN.


Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar) were searched for papers reporting observational studies on patients with DPN in gait, dynamic electromyography or plantar pressure. Exclusion criteria were papers investigating children, interventional studies or studies published prior to 2000.


Twenty-five papers met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Overall there were disparities between studies due to methodological differences in reporting such as the disease duration and degree of neuropathy of participants. DPN subjects walked slower, with smaller stride length and reduced knee extension and active ankle plantar/dorsiflexion compared to healthy and diabetes controls. Dynamic electromyography studies suggested an early activation of lateral gastrocnemius, whilst findings in the tibialis anterior and vastus lateralis muscles were inconsistent. Markedly elevated forefoot peak plantar pressures (PPP) were observed in those with a history of ulceration.


This review suggests marked biomechanical (gait, electromyography and plantar pressure) variation in DPN patients compared to controls. Studies investigating kinematic (description of movement) variables of the foot are lacking and further studies are needed. It is recommended that future DPN biomechanical studies should document the duration and degree of DPN.

Item ID: 32843
Item Type: Article (Short Note)
ISSN: 1757-1146
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© 2013 Fernando et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Date Deposited: 22 May 2014 00:29
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110601 Biomechanics @ 80%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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