The load transfer mechanism across the skeleton of the human foot is very important to understand its biomechanical function. In this work, we develop several computational models to compare the biomechanical response of different metatarsal geometries. Finite element 3D simulations of feet reconstructed from computer tomography (CT) scans were used to evaluate the stress/strain distributions during the stance posture. The numerical predictions for pathological and healthy foot geometries present different load transfer mechanisms that can provide a biomechanical explanation of why some metatarsal geometrical configurations cause different foot skeletal stresses. The most significant result in all cases was a reduction between 20% and 30% of the peak load supported by the first metatarsal. Therefore, we conclude that a clearly unloaded first metatarsal, overloading the rest, is a risk factor to induce metatarsalgia.
Hallux abducto valgus (HAV), one of the most common forefoot deformities, occurs primarily in elderly women. HAV is a complex disease without a clearly identifiable cause for its higher prevalence in women compared with men. Several studies have reported various skeletal parameters related to HAV. This study examined the geometry of the proximal phalanx of the hallux (PPH) as a potential etiologic factor in this deformity. A total of 43 cadaver feet (22 males and 21 females) were examined by means of cadaveric dissection. From these data, ten representative PPHs for both genders were selected, corresponding to five percentiles for males (0, 25, 50, 75, and 100%) and five for females. These ten different PPHs were modeled and inserted in ten foot models. Stress distribution patterns within these ten PPH models were qualitatively compared using finite element analysis. In the ten cases analyzed, tensile stresses were larger on the lateral side, whereas compressive stresses were larger on the medial side. The bones of males were larger than female bones for each of the parameters examined; however, the mean difference between lateral and medial sides of the PPH (mean ± SD) was larger in women. Also the shallower the concavity at the base of the PPH, the larger the compressive stresses predicted. Internal forces on the PPH, due to differences in length between its medial and lateral sides, may force the PPH into a less-stressful position. The geometry of the PPH is a significant factor in HAV development influencing the other reported skeletal parameters and, thus, should be considered during preoperative evaluation. Clinical assessment should evaluate the first ray as a whole and not as isolated factors.
Background: Adult acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD) is traditionally related to a tibialis posterior tendon deficiency. In the intermediate stages, treatments are commonly focused on reinforcing this tissue, but sometimes the deformation appears again over time, necessitating the use of more aggressive options. Tissue stress cannot be consistently evaluated through traditional experimental trials. Computational foot modeling extends knowledge of the disease and could help guide the clinical decisions. This study analyzes the biomechanical stress of the main tissues related to AAFD and their capacity to support the plantar arch. Methods: A FE foot model was reconstructed. All the bones, cartilages and tissues related to AAFD were included, respecting their biomechanical characteristics. The biomechanical tissue stress was quantified. The capacity of each soft tissue to support the plantar arch was measured, following clinical criteria. Findings: Biomechanical stress of the tibialis posterior tendon is considerably superior to both the plantar fascia and spring ligament stress. However, it cannot maintain the plantar arch by itself. Both the tibialis posterior tendon and spring ligament act in reducing the hindfoot pronation, while the plantar fascia is the main tissue that prevents arch elongation. The Achilles tendon action increases the plantar tissue stress. Interpretation: The tibialis posterior tendon stress increases when the spring ligament or the fascia plantar fails. These findings are consistent with the theory that regards the tibialis posterior tendon as a secondary actor because it cannot support the plantar arch and claudicates when the hindfoot has rotated around the talonavicular joint.
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