Researchers used a 3D model of a foot with hammer toe to investigate how the condition shifts the location of maximum stresses to the forefoot and raises the risk of foot ulcers.
Deformities such a hammer toe have been associated with an increased risk of foot ulcers in people with diabetes. In this latest study, academics from Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran and the universities of Exeter and Staffordshire set out to examine the impact of hammer toe on internal stresses during walking.
The team developed a 3D finite element model of a foot with hammer toe deformity, and used gait analysis, musculoskeletal modelling, and electromyography tests.
They found that predicted internal stresses in the soft tissue were 1.64 greater than plantar pressure, with maximum internal stresses in the hard tissue observed at the 3rd and 5th metatarsals.
A key finding was that hammer toe shifts the location of maximum stresses to the forefoot and raises the risk of ulcers.
“The findings of this study support the association between changes in loading pattern, deformity, and internal stresses in the soft tissue that lead to foot ulceration,” the study concludes.