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The Occurrence of Ipsilateral or Contralateral Foot Disorders and Hand Dominance

The Framingham Foot Study

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  • 1 Clinical Epidemiology Research and Training Unit, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.
  • | 2 Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA. Dr. Hannan is also with Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
  • | 3 Non-surgical Foot and Ankle Service and Joe DiMaggio Sports Foot and Ankle Center, The Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY.
  • | 4 Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, The Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY.
  • | 5 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA.
  • | 6 Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, and US Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program, Boston, MA.
  • | 7 Leon Root, MD Motion Analysis Laboratory, The Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY.
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Background:

To our knowledge, hand dominance and side of foot disorders has not been described in the literature. We sought to evaluate whether hand dominance was associated with ipsilateral foot disorders in community-dwelling older men and women.

Methods:

Data were from the Framingham Foot Study (N = 2,089, examined 2002–2008). Hand preference for writing was used to classify hand dominance. Foot disorders and side of disorders were based on validated foot examination findings. Generalized linear models with generalized estimating equations were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals, accounting for intraperson variability.

Results:

Left-handed people were less likely to have foot pain or any foot disorders ipsilateral but were more likely to have hallux valgus ipsilateral to the left hand. Among right-handed people, the following statistically significant increased odds of having an ipsilateral versus contralateral foot disorder were seen: 30% for Morton’s neuroma, 18% for hammer toes, 21% for lesser toe deformity, and a twofold increased odds of any foot disorder; there was a 17% decreased odds for Tailor’s bunion and an 11% decreased odds for pes cavus.

Conclusions:

For the 2,089 study participants, certain forefoot disorders were shown to be ipsilateral and others were contralateral to the dominant hand. Future studies should examine whether the same biological mechanism that explains ipsilateral hand and foot preference may explain ipsilateral hand dominance and forefoot disorders. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 103(1): 16–23, 2013)

Corresponding author: Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH, Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, 1200 Centre St, Boston, MA 02131. (E-mail: Hannan@hsl.harvard.edu)