This study describes the prevalence and occurrence of diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) pain and the impact of DFU pain on health-related quality of life (HRQL) using generic and disease specific instruments. Data were obtained from 127 patients with DFU who were recruited from 6 hospital-based diabetic outpatient clinics. HRQL was measured using the Medical Outcome Study-Short Form (SF-36) and the Diabetes Foot Ulcer Scale (DFS). Occurrence of pain was assessed using 2 items from the DFS (ie, pain while walking and/or standing and pain during the night related to foot ulcer problems). Seventy-five percent reported some pain related to DFU and 57% reported DFU pain while walking and/or standing and also during the night. Twenty-five percent reported pain none of the time. A higher percentage of patients with pain reported having a prescription for an analgesic medication than those without pain. Patients who reported pain most or all of the time had statistically and clinically significantly poorer HRQL than those who did not report pain. These findings suggest that pain associated with DFU is a significant clinical problem. Additional research is warranted to further characterize the pain associated with DFU and its impact on patient outcomes and HRQL.
Perspective: Numerous basic and clinical studies have focused on pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Findings from this study suggest a new pain problem in patients with diabetes, namely, pain associated with foot ulcers, that warrants further investigation.