Problems with gait and posture in neuropathic patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

Diabet Med. 1992 Jun;9(5):469-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.1992.tb01819.x.


Peripheral neuropathy secondary to diabetes mellitus is believed to cause postural instability and uncoordinated gait, although this is not well documented. Two groups of patients from the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, matched for age and duration of Type 1 diabetes, but with significantly different vibratory sensation thresholds as determined by Vibratron II testing, were therefore surveyed. The mean ages were 32.9 and 31.9 years and durations of diabetes were 22.0 and 18.8 years for the neuropathic and control groups, respectively. Patients provided details of fall injuries, and perception of safety during standing and walking. Multiple linear and logistic regression models were used to account for potentially associated variables such as gender, retinopathy, and duration of diabetes. The neuropathic group had adjusted odds ratios for reported injuries during gait of 15.0 relative to the control group (95% confidence intervals 1.04-216.59). The neuropathic group also reported significantly lower scores (less safe, p = 0.004) than the control group on perceived safety in unusual conditions. It is concluded that peripheral neuropathy has an effect on gait and posture which is clinically significant and that this effect merits further biomechanical study in neuropathic patients.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Posture*
  • Vibration
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology