| neuropathic pain

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Why Walking May Require More Energy

New Insight Into Movement Difficulty for Neuropathy Sufferers

New research findings suggest that people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may need to expend more energy for walking, due to a deficit in stored energy in the Achilles heel that would otherwise be available for locomotion. This, in turn, may result in a decrease in overall mobility and movement in patients with diabetic nerve damage, further increasing their risk of complications from diabetes symptoms. Peripheral neuropathy affects up to 68% of patients with diabetes, and provokes symptoms including weakness, numbness, and pain in the feet and hands. The findings were published online earlier this month in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

The study examined 3 groups of adult volunteers comprised of a cohort with both diabetes and diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy, a second group who had diabetes but no accompanying neuropathy, and a control group who presented with neither diabetes or neuropathy. Subjects performed standardized walking tests during which the energy stored in their Achilles was measured and compared. Normally, the Achilles tendon stores and releases substantial energy during walking, thereby minimizing the effort expended by the calf muscles. Compared to the control group, both the neuropathy and diabetes-alone groups exhibited higher stiffness in their Achilles tendons, implying reduced capacity for energy storage. The authors concluded that “The results strongly point toward the reduced energy saving capacity of the Achilles tendon in diabetes and [diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy] patients as an important factor contributing to the increased metabolic [cost of walking] in these patients.”

Read more about the findings.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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