Determination of mechanical loading components of the equine metacarpus from measurements of strain during walking

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Reasons for performing study:

The mechanical environment of the distal limb is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of many injuries, but has not yet been thoroughly described.


To determine the forces and moments experienced by the metacarpusin vivoduring walking and also to assess the effect of some simplifying assumptions used in analysis.


Strains from 8 gauges adhered to the left metacarpus of one horse were recordedin vivoduring walking. Two different models - one based upon the mechanical theory of beams and shafts and, the other, based upon a finite element analysis (FEA) - were used to determine the external loads applied at the ends of the bone.


Five orthogonal force and moment components were resolved by the analysis. In addition, 2 orthogonal bending moments were calculated near mid-shaft. Axial force was found to be the major loading component and displayed a bi-modal pattern during the stance phase of the stride. The shaft model of the bone showed good agreement with the FEA model, despite making many simplifying assumptions.


A 3-dimensional loading scenario was observed in the metacarpus, with axial force being the major component.

Potential relevance:

These results provide an opportunity to validate mathematical (computer) models of the limb. The data may also assist in the formulation of hypotheses regarding the pathogenesis of injuries to the distal limb.

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