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Patients with longstanding progressive collapsing foot deformity often develop osteoarthritis of the ankle, midfoot, or hindfoot joints, which can be symptomatic or lead to fixed deformities that complicate treatment. The development of deformity is likely caused by ligament degeneration and tears. However, the effect of individual ligament tears on changes in joint contact mechanics has not been investigated.

A validated finite element model of the foot was used to compare joint contact areas, forces, and pressures between the intact and collapsed foot, and to evaluate the effect of individual ligament tears on joint
contact mechanics.

Collapsing the foot resulted in an increase in contact pressure in the subtalar, calcaneocuboid, tibiotalar, medial naviculocuneiform, and first tarsometatarsal joints but a decrease in contact pressure in the talonavicular joint. Rupture of the spring ligament was the main contributor to increased calcaneocuboid and subtalar joint contact pressures and decreased medial naviculocuneiform and first tarsometatarsal joint contact pressures, as well as talonavicular subluxation. Deltoid ligament rupture was the primary source of increased contact pressure in the medial naviculocuneiform, first tarsometatarsal, and tibiotalar joints.

This research shows that degenerative tearing of the ligaments in flatfoot deformity leads to increased joint contact pressures, primarily in the calcaneocuboid, subtalar, and tibiotalar joints, which has been implicated in the development of osteoarthritis in these joints. An improved understanding of the relationship between ligament tears and joint contact pressures could provide support for the use of ligament reconstructions to prevent the development of arthrosis.