Individuals with chronic ankle instability typically present with abnormal gait patterns
favoring the lateral foot. This gait pattern may alter cartilage stress potentially
increasing the risk of osteoarthritis development, thus exploring this relationship
may provide insights for early interventions. The purpose of this study was to examine
the relationship gait biomechanics and talar articular cartilage characteristics.
Talar articular cartilage was assessed with ultrasound at rest and after walking for
30-min in twenty-five adults (14 females, 22.6 ± 3.12 years, 168.12 ± 9.83 cm, 76.00 ± 15.47 kg)
with chronic ankle instability. Cartilage was segmented into Total, Medial, and Lateral
regions. During the 30-min walking period, plantar pressure of the entire foot was
recorded every 5-min and condensed to create a biomechanical loading pattern and center
of pressure gait line. Relationships between resting cartilage thickness and echo
intensity, changes in thickness and echo intensity, and plantar pressure profiles
were assessed with correlation coefficients.
There was a significant relationship between plantar pressure in the lateral forefoot
and medial talar cartilage deformation (r = 0.408, p < .05). Early stance center of pressure was correlated with deformation in the total
(r = 0.439–0.524) and lateral (r = 0.443–0.550) regions (p < .05). There were no significant correlations between echo intensity and biomechanics.
This study contributes to the growing evidence that talar cartilage strain patterns
are associated with biomechanics during walking. Further validation is needed to determine
a causal relationship between biomechanics and ultrasound cartilage characteristics
after ankle sprains. In addition, research should continue determining the utility
of ultrasound to monitor joint health after musculoskeletal injuries.