Lower limb muscle dysfunction may contribute to foot ulceration in diabetic patients

R. J. Abboud, D. I. Rowley, R. W. Newton

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    79 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives. To investigate the relationship between in-shoe plantar foot pressure and the co-ordinated activity of five lower limb muscles of diabetic patients, who are known to have a higher risk of foot morbidity.

    Design. A portable six channel electromyographic system has been designed, developed and synchronised in real time with a 16 channel piezoelectric transducer in-shoe pressure measuring device, Gaitscan.

    Background. So far, no one has tried to establish a relationship between in-shoe foot pressure distribution and muscle activity of the lower limb in diabetes. The measurement of phasic muscle activity has been related to foot pressure and compared to a control group of normal volunteers.

    Methods. Twenty nine diabetic subjects and 22 healthy non-diabetic volunteers have been studied by recording electromyography of lower leg muscles and in-shoe foot pressure measurements simultaneously.

    Results. in diabetic subjects, the period of contact pressure was greater than in normal control subjects (P < 0.003). The initial forefoot time to contact with the ground was shorter in diabetics when compared to controls, indicating a faster forefoot contact. Of the dorsiflexor muscles, the Anterior Tibialis, normally contracting eccentrically at heel strike, was subject to a measurable delay in the initiation of contraction, of mean difference of 180 ms (P < 0.001), in diabetic subjects when compared to the normal controls.

    Conclusions. The late firing of Tibialis Anterior means that its normal modulating role in lowering the foot to the sound after heel strike through eccentric contraction is disturbed. The result is that the foot reaches the foot flat stage in a less ordered manner, subjecting it to high plantar pressures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-45
    Number of pages9
    JournalClinical Biomechanics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


    • Diabetics
    • Foot pressure
    • Electromyography


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