Altered tibial nerve biomechanics in patients with diabetes mellitus


  • This project was supported in part by a Faculty Research Grant and a Faculty Research Incentives Award from Samuel Merritt University awarded (to B.S.B.).


Introduction: Hyperglycemia associated with diabetes mellitus (DM) has adverse impacts on peripheral nerve connective tissue structure, and there is preliminary evidence that nerve biomechanics may be altered. Methods: Ultrasound imaging was utilized to quantify the magnitude and timing of tibial nerve excursion during ankle dorsiflexion in patients with DM and matched healthy controls. Results: Tibial nerve longitudinal excursion at the ankle and knee was reduced, and timing was delayed at the ankle in the DM group. Severity of neuropathy was correlated with larger reductions in longitudinal excursion. Nerve cross-sectional area was increased at the ankle in the DM group. Conclusions: Larger tibial nerve size within the tarsal tunnel in patients with DM may restrict longitudinal excursion, which was most evident with more severe neuropathy. It is hypothesized that these alterations may be related to painful symptoms during functional activities that utilize similar physiological motions through various biomechanical and physiological mechanisms. Muscle Nerve 50:216–223, 2014