How does bone strain vary between the third metacarpal and the proximal phalangeal bones of the equine distal limb?

Ellen Singer, Tanya Garcia, Susan Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strain parameters at injury prone sites of the equine third metacarpal (MC3) and proximal phalangeal (P1) bones were investigated with the aim of improving understanding of injury pathogenesis. We hypothesized that dorsal principal and shear strain patterns, magnitudes and directions would differ from proximal-to-distal; and would be similar from medial-to-lateral across each bone. Unilateral limbs from nine equine cadavers were instrumented with rosette strain gauges during limb loading to 10,500 N. Gauges were attached at seven dorsal sites: middle MC3, distal MC3 (medial, middle, lateral) and proximal P1 (medial, middle, lateral). Outcome measures were analysed with repeated measures analysis of variance. Distal MC3 had the greatest, and proximal P1 the smallest magnitude of minimum principal and shear strains. Directions of maximum and minimum principal strain were similar at the middle and distal MC3 sites with a 20-40° direction difference compared to proximal P1. The patterns of strain magnitude and direction were similar from medial-to-lateral on distal MC3 but varied in pattern and magnitude among the P1 sites. Overall, as load reached maximum, direction of minimum principal strain became more axial in orientation, converging from opposite directions between bones, potentially maximising stability of the distal limb. The difference in strain parameters and strain ratio for adjacent anatomic sites on distal MC3 and proximal P1 was not anticipated, in light of the anatomic congruity of the metacarpophalangeal joint. Based on the predominance of shear strain across proximal P1, shear forces are likely the predominant biomechanical contributor to sagittal fractures of P1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110455
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Jun 23 2021


  • Bone strain
  • Horse
  • Metacarpophalangeal joint
  • Proximal phalanx
  • Third metacarpal bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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