OBJECTIVE: We used the Semmes-Weinstein 5.07 monofilament to assess the prevalence of foot insensitivity and its relationship to potential risk factors. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: There were 3,638 American Indian participants from Arizona, North and South Dakota, and Oklahoma who attended a study clinic on two occasions: baseline and follow-up, 4 years later. Oral glucose tolerance tests were performed at the visits for those who had not previously been diagnosed as having diabetes. A total of 2,051 participants were diagnosed with diabetes before the study or at the subsequent study visits. At the follow-up visit, participants were tested for their ability to sense the 5.07 (10 g) monofilament at 10 sites of the foot. The prevalence of foot insensitivity was ascertained, and its relation to characteristics of participants was assessed in both univariate and logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: Diabetic participants had a much higher prevalence of foot insensitivity (defined as greater than or equal to five incorrect responses) than nondiabetic participants (14 vs. 5%, respectively). However, marked foot insensitivity was uncommon within the first few years of diagnosis of diabetes. Among the diabetic participants, those diagnosed before study entry had the highest prevalence of foot insensitivity. The prevalence of foot insensitivity was highest in the Arizona Indians (22 vs. 9% in the Dakotas and 8% in Oklahoma). In a logistic regression analysis, foot insensitivity was significantly and independently related to center (Arizona versus others), age, duration of diabetes, and height. CONCLUSIONS: Marked foot insensitivity is prevalent in the diabetic American Indian population, especially in Indians in Arizona; however, this insensitivity is apparently uncommon for several years after the diagnosis of diabetes. The data show that Indians with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to the risk of foot ulceration and that the diagnostic screening of diabetes may lead to better prevention of sensory neuropathy and subsequent foot ulceration.

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