There is evidence to indicate that therapeutic footwear can help prevent lower extremity amputation in patients with diabetes. The primary means of preventing amputation is to protect the insensitive foot from unnoticed trauma and excessive plantar pressures that occur during walking. The specific prescription of the shoe will depend on many foot risk criteria, but particularly on the patient's level of sensation, history of ulceration, and the amount of foot deformity. This article describes the type of footwear recommended for each of these increasing levels of foot risk categories.
The measure of navicular drop has been used as an indicator of pronation at the foot. It is defined as the distance the navicular tuberosity moves in standing, as the subtalar joint is allowed to move from its neutral position to a relaxed position. The purposes of this study were to test the reliability of a method to measure navicular drop and to assess the relationships among measures of forefoot to rearfoot position, subtalar joint neutral position, and navicular drop. The results support traditional biomechanical theory but indicate that other factors contribute significantly to navicular drop.
High plantar pressures contribute to skin breakdown in patients with diabetes mellitus and peripheral neuropathy. The primary purpose of this study was to determine the point during the stance phase of walking that corresponds with forefoot peak plantar pressures. Results indicate that peak plantar pressures occurred at 80% +/- 5% of the stance phase of gait in subjects with diabetes and transmetatarsal amputation, as well as in control subjects. Improved methods of footwear design or walking strategies proposed to patients should focus on the demands of the foot during the late stance phase of walking in order to increase available weightbearing area or to decrease forces, which will minimize plantar pressures and reduce trauma to the neuropathic foot.