Foot problems in diabetes: an overview

Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Aug 1;39 Suppl 2:S73-82. doi: 10.1086/383266.


Diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations in the United States. Most amputations are preceded by an ulcer, and ulcers are costly in their own right. Most ulcers are neuropathic in etiology and plantar in location. They occur typically at sites of high mechanical loading because of repetitive trauma in people with loss of pain sensation. In an adequately perfused limb, such ulcers are not difficult to heal. When they are properly mechanically off-loaded, approximately 90% of these wounds heal in approximately 6 weeks. The reference standard off-loading device is the total contact cast, but other reasonably efficacious methods exist. Screening and implementation of preventive measures in the high-risk patient are highly recommended and can reduce the incidence of ulceration. All patients with diabetes should be screened annually for loss of protective sensation, with the 10-g Semmes-Weinstein monofilament being the easiest tool to use. Education to prevent complications should be implemented for all patients with loss of protective sensation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amputation
  • Diabetic Foot / microbiology
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Soft Tissue Infections
  • Somatosensory Disorders