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Static Ankle Joint Equinus

Toward a Standard Definition and Diagnosis

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  • 1 School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.
  • | 2 Nutritional Physiology Research Centre and Australian Technology Network Centre for Metabolic Fitness, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.
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Equinus is characterized by reduced dorsiflexion of the ankle joint, but there is a lack of consensus regarding criteria for definition and diagnosis. This review examines the literature relating to the definition, assessment, diagnosis, prevalence, and complications of equinus. Articles on equinus and assessment of ankle joint range of motion were identified by searching the EMBASE, Medline, PubMed, EBSCOhost, Cinahl, and Cochrane databases and by examining the reference lists of the articles found. There is inconsistency regarding the magnitude of reduction in dorsiflexion required to constitute a diagnosis of equinus and no standard method for assessment; hence, the prevalence of equinus is unknown. Goniometric assessment of ankle joint range of motion was shown to be unreliable, whereas purpose-built tools demonstrated good reliability. Reduced dorsiflexion is associated with alterations in gait, increased forefoot pressure, and ankle injury, the magnitude of reduction in range of motion required to predispose to foot or lower-limb abnormalities is not known. In the absence of definitive data, we propose a two-stage definition of equinus: the first stage would reflect dorsiflexion of less than 10° with minor compensation and a minor increase in forefoot pressure, and the second stage would reflect dorsiflexion of less than 5° with major compensation and a major increase in forefoot pressure. This proposed definition of equinus will assist with standardizing the diagnosis and will provide a basis for future studies of the prevalence, causes, and complications of this condition. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(3): 195–203, 2010)

Corresponding author: Jonathan Buckley, PhD, Nutritional Physiology Research Centre, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia. (E-mail: jon.buckley@unisa.edu.au)