Study: Diabetic Foot Complications Among The Top 10 Causes Of Disability

David G. Armstrong DPM MD PhD

Diabetes-related lower extremity complications are a major cause of global disability, according to a recent study in Diabetic Medicine.1

The study notes that of the 435 million people worldwide estimated to have diabetes, about 19 to 34 percent will experience a foot ulcer during their lifetimes.1 My coauthors and I note that diabetic foot complications are a leading cause of infection, hospitalization and amputation throughout the world although evidence-based care can prevent these outcomes.  

This was the first study to evaluate the diabetic foot complications with the World Health Organization's Global Burden of Disease concept. What we found was remarkable. As expected, diabetes was a major cause of global disability but when we looked at diabetes-related lower extremity complications as a separate category by itself, we found that diabetic foot complications were a top 10 condition leading to disability.

This has potentially profound implications for how we discuss and describe this disease to our patients, other colleagues and policymakers, worldwide.


1. Lazzarini PA, Pacella RE, Armstrong DG, van Netten JJ. Diabetes-related lower-extremity complications are a leading cause of the global burden of disability. Diabet Med. 2018; epub May 23.



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