Diabetic nerve damage may increase energy needed for walking

February 22, 2018, American Physiological Society

A new study suggests that diabetes-related nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) may reduce the amount of energy stored by the Achilles tendon during walking. The tendon connects the back of the heel to the calf muscles. This reduction increases the energy required for locomotion ("cost of walking"). The article is published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Peripheral is a type of nerve damage that affects up to 68 percent of people with diabetes. People with diabetes-related neuropathy may experience symptoms such as weakness, numbness and pain in the hands and feet. Symptoms in the feet may make walking and balance control difficult.

Researchers studied three groups of adult volunteers: One group had diabetes and diabetes-related ("neuropathy"), another had diabetes without neuropathy ("diabetes") and a had neither diabetes nor neuropathy ("control"). The researchers observed the volunteers during standardized walking tests to measure the amount of energy the Achilles tendons stored and released while walking. The research team also measured the strength and ability of the knees and ankles to flex as well as changes in the during the walking tests. In healthy people, the Achilles tendon stores and releases a large amount of energy during movement, which minimizes the amount of energy the calf muscles need to expend.

The diabetes and neuropathy groups had more stiffness in their Achilles tendons and less range of motion in the joints than the control group did. Increased tendon stiffness means that less energy can be stored in the tendons, which makes the lower leg muscles work harder, the researchers explained. "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," the research team wrote. Less stored energy and a higher cost of walking may lead to decreased mobility and an increased risk of diabetes complications.

The full article, "Altered Achilles tendon function during walking in people with : implications for metabolic energy saving," is published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Explore further: Trial of shoe insoles to improve balance in diabetic patients

More information: Milos Petrovic et al. Altered Achilles tendon function during walking in people with diabetic neuropathy: implications for metabolic energy saving, Journal of Applied Physiology (2018). DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00290.2017

Related Stories

Trial of shoe insoles to improve balance in diabetic patients

September 1, 2017
Shoe insoles are being trialled to improve balance, walking and physical activity in adults with type 2 diabetes and associated foot nerve damage.

Achilles is more than just one tendon

November 20, 2017
The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the human body. It can bear loads exceeding over 900 kilograms during running. Despite its strength, it is prone to injuries and it is not yet well known what factors predict ...

Balance compromised in diabetic peripheral neuropathy

March 23, 2015
(HealthDay)—Patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) have greater maximum and range of separations of their center of mass from their center of pressure, according to a study published online March 12 in Diabetes ...

Discovery could lead to new therapies for diabetics

January 12, 2018
New research by MDI Biological Laboratory scientist Sandra Rieger, Ph.D., and her team has demonstrated that an enzyme she had previously identified as playing a role in peripheral neuropathy induced by cancer chemotherapy ...

Ankle, knee strength generation slower with diabetic neuropathy

October 29, 2014
(HealthDay)—When walking up and down stairs, patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) are slower at generating strength at the ankle and knee compared to control participants, which may increase the risk of falls, ...

'Substance P' in tears—a noninvasive test for diabetes-related nerve damage?

July 5, 2017
Levels of a nerve cell signaling molecule called substance P—measured in tear samples—might be a useful marker of diabetes-related nerve damage (neuropathy), suggests a study in the July issue of Optometry and Vision ...

Recommended for you

BCG vaccine leads to long-term blood sugar improvement in type 1 diabetes patients

June 21, 2018
Long-term follow-up of participants in clinical trials of a generic vaccine to reverse advanced type 1 diabetes finds significant clinical benefits, including restoration of near-normal blood sugar levels. Three years after ...

Diagnosing diabetes from a single blood sample

June 18, 2018
Diagnosing type 2 diabetes in clinical practice may require only a single blood sample, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Lentils significantly reduce blood glucose levels, study reveals

June 13, 2018
Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent, according to a first-ever University of Guelph study.

Is there a link between diabetes and Parkinson's disease?

June 13, 2018
People with type 2 diabetes may have an increased risk of having a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease later in life, according to a large study published in the June 13, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

Double-checking diabetes medications may reduce re-hospitalizations

June 11, 2018
Clinicians may take upwards of 15 minutes to double-check a patient's medication list in an electronic health record system, but according to a new study, this reconciliation process may be well worth the time for diabetes ...

How a gene linked to obesity could provide new insights into diabetes

June 8, 2018
A gene previously linked with obesity has been found to affect how the body processes insulin, with potential implications for some forms of diabetes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.