Foot lesions in diabetic patients aged 15-20 years : a population-based study

Abstract: Foot problems are not only the most common but in general also the most severe of the diabetic complications. The age group 15-50 yrs in this study was chosen because these patients were considered to be at their most active age and were felt to require optimal foot function.380 patients (96 %) participated, 78 % with Type 1, 20 % Type 2 and 1 % with secondary diabetes mellitus (DM) and 100 healthy controls. Only six patients had signs of peripheral ischaemia but half of the patients had deformities such as fallen forefoot arches and hammer toes. With sensory thresholds and clinical signs it was demonstrated that age, duration of DM and tall stature are major risk factors for diabetic neuropathy. Gender differences depend on differences in height. Dorsiflexion of the toes against resistance was used to test the function and volume of m.extensor digitorum brevis. When compared with measurements of sensory thresholds for vibration, perception and pain, it was found to be a valuable test for screening of distal motor neuropathy.To prevent worsening of foot deformities 266 patients with Type 1 DM were followed for 3 years. Those with the most pronounced deformities were fitted with custom-made insoles and had repeated examinations. Improvement was more common in patients with insoles compared to patients without insoles.Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured in nine patients with osteopathy in their feet and 18 controls. BMD was lower in L2-L3, but not in the proximal femur, implying osteopenia being a possible risk factor for distal osteopathy.Plaster cast treatment was used in 33 diabetic patients with severe foot ulcers who were selected because previous conservative treatment had been unsuccessful and they had been judged unsuitable for vascular surgery. The lesions healed in 19 patients.In conclusion, the main findings demonstrate the need for an increased awareness of early preventive foot care in young and middle-aged diabetic patients.