The neuropathic diabetic foot

Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jan;3(1):14-25. doi: 10.1038/ncpendmet0347.


Diabetic foot problems are common throughout the world, and result in major medical, social and economic consequences for the patients, their families, and society. Foot ulcers are likely to be of neuropathic origin and, therefore, are eminently preventable. Individuals with the greatest risk of ulceration can easily be identified by careful clinical examination of their feet: education and frequent follow-up is indicated for these patients. When infection complicates a foot ulcer, the combination can be limb-threatening, or life-threatening. Infection is defined clinically, but wound cultures assist in identification of causative pathogens. Tissue specimens are strongly preferred to wound swabs for wound cultures. Antimicrobial therapy should be guided by culture results, and although such therapy may cure the infection, it does not heal the wound. Alleviation of the mechanical load on ulcers (offloading) should always be a part of treatment. Plantar neuropathic ulcers typically heal in 6 weeks with nonremovable casts, because pressure at the ulcer site is mitigated and compliance is enforced. The success of other approaches to offloading similarly depends on the patient's adherence to the strategy used for pressure relief.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Diabetic Foot* / economics
  • Diabetic Foot* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Foot* / prevention & control
  • Diabetic Foot* / therapy
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / economics
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / prevention & control
  • Diabetic Neuropathies* / therapy
  • Foot Ulcer / etiology
  • Foot Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Foot Ulcer / therapy
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Osteomyelitis / etiology
  • Wound Healing
  • Wound Infection / complications
  • Wound Infection / diagnosis
  • Wound Infection / microbiology
  • Wound Infection / therapy