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Comparison of shoe-length fit between people with and without diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a case–control study

Alistair D McInnes1, Farina Hashmi1, Lisa J Farndon2, Amanda Church1, Maria Haley2, Debora M Sanger2 and Wesley Vernon2*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Podiatry, School of Health Professions, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK

2 Primary and Community Care Services, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2012, 5:9  doi:10.1186/1757-1146-5-9

Published: 16 April 2012



Amongst the many identified mechanisms leading to diabetic foot ulceration, ill-fitting footwear is one. There is anecdotal evidence that people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy wear shoes that are too small in order to increase the sensation of fit. The aim of this study was to determine whether people with diabetic sensory neuropathy wear appropriate length footwear.


A case–control design was used to compare internal shoe length and foot length differences between a group of people with diabetes and peripheral sensory neuropathy and a group of people without diabetes and no peripheral sensory neuropathy. Shoe and foot length measurements were taken using a calibrated Internal Shoe Size Gauge® and a Brannock Device®, respectively.


Data was collected from 85 participants with diabetes and 118 participants without diabetes. The mean difference between shoe and foot length was not significantly different between the two groups. However, a significant number of participants within both groups had a shoe to foot length difference that lay outside a previously suggested 10 to 15 mm range. From the diabetic and non-diabetic groups 82% (70/85) and 66% (78/118), respectively had a foot to shoe length difference outside this same range.


This study shows that although there is no significant difference in shoe-length fit between participants with and without neuropathy, a significant proportion of these populations wear shoes that are either too long or too short for their foot length according to the 10 to 15 mm value used for comparison. The study has highlighted the need for standardised approaches when considering the allowance required between foot and internal shoe length and for the measurement and comparison of foot and shoe dimensions.