Australian guideline on offloading treatment for foot ulcers: part of the 2021 Australian evidence-based guidelines for diabetes-related foot disease

Fernando, Malindu E., Horsley, Mark, Jones, Sara, Martin, Brian, Nube, Vanessa L., Charles, James, Cheney, Jane, and Lazzarini, Peter A. (2022) Australian guideline on offloading treatment for foot ulcers: part of the 2021 Australian evidence-based guidelines for diabetes-related foot disease. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 15 (1). 31.

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Background: Pressure offloading treatment is critical for healing diabetes-related foot ulcers (DFU). Yet the 2011 Australian DFU guidelines regarding offloading treatment are outdated. A national expert panel aimed to develop a new Australian guideline on offloading treatment for people with DFU by adapting international guidelines that have been assessed as suitable to adapt to the Australian context.

Methods: National Health and Medical Research Council procedures were used to adapt suitable International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot (IWGDF) guidelines to the Australian context. We systematically screened, assessed and judged all IWGDF offloading recommendations using best practice ADAPTE and GRADE frameworks to decide which recommendations should be adopted, adapted or excluded in the Australian context. For each recommendation, we re-evaluated the wording, quality of evidence, strength of recommendation, and provided rationale, justifications and implementation considerations, including for geographically remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This guideline, along with five accompanying Australian DFU guidelines, underwent public consultation, further revision and approval by ten national peak bodies (professional organisations). Results: Of the 13 original IWGDF offloading treatment recommendations, we adopted four and adapted nine. The main reasons for adapting the IWGDF recommendations included differences in quality of evidence ratings and clarification of the intervention(s) and control treatment(s) in the recommendations for the Australian context. For Australians with plantar DFU, we recommend a step-down offloading treatment approach based on their contraindications and tolerance. We strongly recommend non-removable knee-high offloading devices as first-line treatment, removable knee-high offloading devices as second-line, removable ankle-high offloading devices third-line, and medical grade footwear as last-line. We recommend considering using felted foam in combination with the chosen offloading device or footwear to further reduce plantar pressure. If offloading device options fail to heal a person with plantar DFU, we recommend considering various surgical offloading procedures. For people with non-plantar DFU, depending on the type and location of the DFU, we recommend using a removable offloading device, felted foam, toe spacers or orthoses, or medical grade footwear. The six new guidelines and the full protocol can be found at:

Conclusions: We have developed a new Australian evidence-based guideline on offloading treatment for people with DFU that has been endorsed by ten key national peak bodies. Health professionals implementing these offloading recommendations in Australia should produce better DFU healing outcomes for their patients, communities, and country.

Item ID: 74431
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1757-1146
Keywords: Cast, Diabetes-related foot ulceration, Diabetic foot, Foot ulcer, Footwear, Guidelines, Offloading, Offloading device, Surgery, Treatment
Copyright Information: © The Author(s). 2022 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 03:34
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320299 Clinical sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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