The amazing power of compensation. Coming to a patient in your office… Maybe today

This gal has had a right sided knee replacement. She has an anatomical right short leg, a forefoot supinatus, an increased Q angle and a forefoot adductus. So, what’s the backstory?

When we have an anatomical short leg, we will often have a tendency to try to “lengthen“ that extremity and “shorten” the longer extremity. This is often accomplished through pelvic rotation although sometimes can be with knee flexion/extension or change in the Q angle. When the condition is long-standing, the body will often compensate in other ways, such as what we are seeing here.

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The fore foot can supinate in an attempt to lenthen the extremity. Note how the right extremity forefoot is in varus with respect to the rearfoot, effectively lengthening the extremity. As you can see from the picture, this is becoming a “hard“ deformity resulting in a forefoot varus.

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Over time, the forefoot has actually “adducted “ as you can see, again in an attempt to lengthen the extremity. Remember that supination is plantar flexion, abduction and inversion, all three which are visible here.


You will also see that the Q angle is less on the right side (se above), effectively lengthening that extremity, but not quite enough as we can see from the picture :-)



Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#forefootadductus #shortleg #kneereplacement #tkr #forefootvarus #gait #thegaitguys

We’ve told you once and we will tell you again…

Folks with femoral retro torsion often experience lower back pain with twisting movements

This left handed hydrology engineer Presented to the office with an acute onset of lower back pain following “swinging a softball bat”. He comments that he always “hit it out of the park“ and hit “five home runs“ in the last game prior to his backs demise.

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

note the internal tibial torsion. drop a plumbline from the tibial tuberosity. it should pass through the 2nd met or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

He presented antalgic with a pelvic shift to the left side, flexion of the lumbar spine with 0° extension and a complete loss of the lumbar lordosis. He could not extend his lumbar spine past 0° and was able to flex approximately 70. Lateral bending was approximately 20° on each side. Neurological exam negative. Physical exam revealed bilateral femoral retro torsion as seen above. Note above the loss of internal rotation at the hips of both legs, thus he has very limited internal rotation of the hips. Femoral retroversion means that the angle of the neck of the femur (also known as the femoral neck angle) is less than 8°, severely limiting internal rotation of the hip and often leading to CAM lesions.

Stand like you’re in a batters box and swing like you’re left handed. What do you notice? As you come through your swing your left hip externally rotates and your right hip must internally rotate. He has no internal rotation of the right hip and on a good day, the lumbar spine has about 5° of rotation with half of that occurring at the lumbosacral junction. Guess what? The facet joints are going to become compressed!

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

bisect the calcaneus. the line should fall though the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd met shafts

Now combine that with bilateral 4 foot adductus (see photos above). His foot is already in supination so it is a poor shock observer.

Go back to your “batters box“. Come through your swing left handed. What do you notice? The left foot goes into a greater amount of pronation in the right foot goes into a greater amount of supination. Do you think this is going to help the amount of internal rotation available to the hip?

When folks present with lower back pain due to twisting injuries, make sure to check for femoral torsions. They’re often present with internal tibial torsion, which is also present in this individual.

Remember a while ago we said “things occur in threes”. That goes for congenital abnormalities as well: in this patient: femoral retro torsion, internal tibial torsion and forefoot adductus.

What do we do? Treat locally to reduce inflammation and take steps to try to improve internal rotation of the hips bilaterally as well as having him externally rotate his right foot when he is in the batteries box to allow him to "create" more internal rotation of the right hip.

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#internalrotation #hipproblem #femoraltorsion #femoralversion #retroversion #retrotorsion #thegaitguys

Neuroma! Triple Threat....

Can you guess why this patient is developing a neuroma on the left foot, between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals?

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This gal presented to the office with pain in the left foot, in the area she points to as being between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals. It has been coming on over time and has become much worse this spring with hiking long distances, especially in narrower shoes. It is relieved by rest and made worse with activity.

Note the following:

  • She has an anatomical short leg on the left (tibial)

  • internal tibial torsion on the left

  • left forefoot adductus (see the post link below if you need a refresher)

Lets think about this.

The anatomical short leg on the left is causing this foot to remain in relative supination compared the right and causes her to bear weight laterally on the foot.

The internal tibial torsion has a similar effect, decreasing the progression angle and again causing her to bear weight laterally on the foot, compressing the metatarsals together.

We have discussed forefoot adductus before here on the blog. Again, because of the metararsal varus angle, it alters the forces traveling through the foot, pushing the metatarsals together and irritating the nerve root sheath, causing hypertrophy of the epineurium and the beginnings of a neuroma.

In this patients case, these things are additive, causing what I like to a call the “triple threat”.

So, what do we do?

  • give her shoes/sandals with a wider toe box

  • work on foot mobility, especially in descending the 1st ray on the left

  • work on foot intrinsic strength, particularly the long extensors

  • treat the area of inflammation with acupuncture

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#forefootadductus #metatarsusadductus #neuroma #gaitanalysis #thegaitguys #internaltibialtorsion

Things seem to come in 3's...

Things tend to occur in threes. This includes congenital abnormalities. Take a look this gentleman who came in to see us with lower back pain.

Highlights with pictures below:

  • bilateral femoral retrotorsion

  • bilateral internal tibial torsion

  • forefoot (metatarsus) adductus

So why LBP? Our theory is the lack of internal rotation of the lower extremities forces that motion to occur somewhere; the next mobile area just north is the lumbar spine, where there is limited rotation available, usually about 5 degrees.

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys.

#tibialtorsion #femoraltorsion #femoralretrotorsion #lowbackpain #thegaitguys #gaitproblem

this is his left hip in full internal rotation. note that he does go past zero.

this is his left hip in full internal rotation. note that he does go past zero.

full internal rotation of the right hip; note he does not go past zero

full internal rotation of the right hip; note he does not go past zero

note the internal tibial torsion. a line dropped from the tibial tuberosity should go through the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd.

note the internal tibial torsion. a line dropped from the tibial tuberosity should go through the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd.

ditto for the keft

ditto for the keft

a line bisecting the calcaneus should pass between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal shafts. If talar tosion was present, the rearfoot would appear more adducted

a line bisecting the calcaneus should pass between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal shafts. If talar tosion was present, the rearfoot would appear more adducted

less adductus but still present

less adductus but still present

look at that long flexor response in compensation. What can you say about the quadratus plantae? NO bueno…

look at that long flexor response in compensation. What can you say about the quadratus plantae? NO bueno…

Ditto!

Ditto!

Metatarsus Adductus: The Basics

Metatarsus Adductus: The Basics

A few points to remember:

  • Metatarsus adductus deformity is a forefoot which is adducted in the transverse plane with the apex of the deformity at LisFranc’s (tarso-metatarsal) joint. The fifth metatarsal base will be prominent and the lateral border of the foot which is convex in shape . The medial foot border is concave with a deep vertical skin crease located at the first metatarso cuneiform joint level. The hallux (great toe) may be widely separated from the second digit and the lesser digits will usually be adducted at their bases (se below). ln some cases the abductor hallucis tendon may be palpably taut just proximal to its insertion into the inferomedial aspect of the proximal phalanx (1)
  • To measure the deviation of the metatarsals, the midline of the foot correspondingto bisecting the heel is used as a reference. This is the line that divides the heel pad into equal parts and, when extended, runs through the second toe or the second web space. In mild deformities, the midline of the foot runs through the third toe. In moderate adductus deformities, it falls between the third and fourth toes. In severe deformities the line is lateral to the third web space.(2)
  • If detected early, stretching is a common and effective treatment for mild and some moderate cases. The heel is steadied with one hand while the forefoot is abducted in relation to the hind foot. This is done for 5 reps, 5-7 times per day. (2)
  • 85% will resolve spontaneously, is caused by intrauterine position, is flexible & resolves spontaneously in more than 90 % of children. (3)
  • Though often used interchangeably, the term "metatarsus adductus" is usually reserved for milder cases, where the forefoot is adducted on the hindfoot at the tarso-metatarsal articulation. Metatarsus varus is often reserved for conditions where the matatrsals are actually curved AND the forefoot is adducted on the hindfoot. (4) The term "Metatarsus primus varus" is reserved for feet which have the same neutral or valgus hindfoot and varus forefoot but, in addition, increased divergence of the first and second metatarsals. (5)
  • It is interesting to note that along with forefoot adductus, hip dysplasia and internal tibial torsion are common (6) and this patient has the latter
  • Gait abnormalities seen with this deformity include a decreased progression angle, in toed gait, excessive supination of the feet with low gear push off from the lesser metatarsals. 

 

1.  Bleck E: Metatarsus adductus: classification and relationship to outcomes of treatment. J Pediatric Orthop 3:2-9,1983.

2. Bohne W. Metatarsus adductus. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1987;63(9):835-838.  link to FREE full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1629274/

3. http://www.wheelessonline.com/ortho/metatarsus_adductus

4. Peabody, C.W. and Muro, F.: Congenital metatarsus varus. J. Bone Joint Surg. 15:171-89, 1933.

5. Truslow, W.: Metatarsus primus varus or hallux valgus? J. Bone Joint Surg.23:98-108, 1925.

6. Jacobs J: Metatarsus varus and hip dysplasia. C/inO rth o p 16:203-212, 1960


additional references:

Kane R. Metatarsus varus. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1987;63(9):828-834. link to FREE full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1629282/

Wynne-Davies R, Littlejohn A, Gormley J. Aetiology and interrelationship of some common skeletal deformities. (Talipes equinovarus and calcaneovalgus, metatarsus varus, congenital dislocation of the hip, and infantile idiopathic scoliosis). Journal of Medical Genetics. 1982;19(5):321-328. link to FREE full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1048914/

 

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 Every foot has a story. 

 This is not your typical “in this person has internal tibial torsion, yada yada yada” post.  This post poses a question and the question is “Why does this gentleman have a forefoot adductus?”

The first two pictures show me fully internally rotating the patients left leg. You will note that he does not go past zero degrees and he has femoral retroversion. He also has bilateral internal tibial torsion, which is visible in most of the pictures. The next two pictures show me fully internally rotating his right leg, with limited motion, as well and internal tibial torsion, which is worse on this ® side

 The large middle picture shows him rest. Note the bilateral external rotation of the legs. This is most likely to create some internal rotation, because thatis a position of comfort for him (ie he is creating some “relief” and internal rotation, by externally rotating the lower extremity)

 The next three pictures show his anatomically short left leg. Yes there is a large tibial and small femoral component. 

 The final picture (from above) shows his forefoot adductus. Note that how, if you were to bisect the calcaneus and draw a line coming forward, the toes fall medial to a line that would normally be between the second and third metatarsal’s. This is more evident on the right side.  Note the separation of the big toe from the others, right side greater than left. 

Metatarsus adductus deformity is a forefoot which is adducted in the transverse plane with the apex of the deformity at LisFranc’s (tarso-metatarsal) joint. The fifth metatarsal base will be prominent and the lateral border of the foot convex in shape . The medial foot border is concave with a deep vertical skin crease located at the first metatarso cuneiform joint level. The hallux (great toe) may be widely separated from the second digit and the lesser digits will usually be adducted at their bases. ln some cases the abductor hallucis tendon may be palpably taut just proximal to its insertion into the inferomedial aspect of the proximal phalanx (1)

Gait abnormalities seen with this deformity include a decreased progression angle, in toed gait, excessive supination of the feet with low gear push off from the lesser metatarsals. 

 It is interesting to note that along with forefoot adductus, hip dysplasia and internal tibial torsion are common (2) and this patient has some degree of both. 

 His forefoot adductus is developmental and due to the lack of range of motion and lack of internal rotation of the lower extremities, due to the femoral retrotorsion and internal tibial torsion.  If he didn’t adduct the foot he would have to change weight-bearing over his stance phase extremity to propel himself forward. Try internally rotating your foot and standing on one leg and then externally rotating. See what I mean? With the internal rotation it moves your center of gravity over your hip without nearly as much lateral displacement as would be necessary as with external rotation. Try it again with external rotation of the foot; do you see how you are more likely displace the hip further to that side OR lean to that side rather than shift your hip? So, his adductus is out of necessity.

Interesting case! When you have a person with internal torsion and limited hip internal rotation, with an adducted foot, think of forefoot adductus!


1.  Bleck E: Metatarsus adductus: classification and relationship to outcomes of treatment. J Pediatric Orthop 3:2-9,1983.

2. Jacobs J: Metatarsus varus and hip dysplasia. C/inO rth o p 16:203-212, 1960