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Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2014 Feb;29(2):223-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2013.11.003. Epub 2013 Nov 15.

American Society of Biomechanics Clinical Biomechanics Award 2012: plantar shear stress distributions in diabetic patients with and without neuropathy.

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  • 1Physical Therapy, UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA. Electronic address:



The exact pathology of diabetic foot ulcers remains to be resolved. Evidence suggests that plantar shear forces play a major role in diabetic ulceration. Unfortunately, only a few manuscripts exist on the clinical implications of plantar shear. The purpose of this study was to compare global and regional peak plantar stress values in three groups; diabetic patients with neuropathy, diabetic patients without neuropathy and healthy control subjects.


Fourteen diabetic neuropathic patients, 14 non-neuropathic diabetic control and 11 non-diabetic control subjects were recruited. Subjects walked on a custom-built stress plate that quantified plantar pressures and shear. Four stress variables were analyzed; peak pressure, peak shear, peak pressure-time and shear-time integral.


Global peak values of peak shear (p = 0.039), shear-time integral (p = 0.002) and pressure-time integral (p = 0.003) were significantly higher in the diabetic neuropathic group. The local peak shear stress and shear-time integral were also significantly higher in diabetic neuropathic patients compared to both control groups, in particular, at the hallux and central forefoot. The local peak pressure and pressure-time integral were significantly different between the three groups at the medial and lateral forefoot.


Plantar shear and shear-time integral magnitudes were elevated in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy, which indicates the potential clinical significance of these factors in ulceration. It is thought that further investigation of plantar shear would lead to a better understanding of ulceration pathomechanics, which in turn will assist researchers in developing more effective preventive devices and strategies.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Diabetic foot; Diabetic foot biomechanics; Diabetic foot ulcers; Foot biomechanics; Neuropathic foot ulcers; Plantar pressure; Plantar shear; Plantar shear forces; Plantar shear stresses; Plantar ulcers

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