Measurement of Dorsal First Ray Mobility: A Topical Historical Review and Commentary

Ward M. Glasoe, Thomas C. Michaud

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Despite evidence that instability of the first ray (first metatarsal and medial cuneiform) alters the loading mechanics of the foot, surprisingly few studies have linked the condition with disorders of the foot. A factor limiting this research is the difficulty associated with measuring first ray mobility (FRM). To quantify dorsal FRM, clinicians and researchers have devised a variety of methods that impose a dorsally directed load, and record displacement. The methods include manual examination, radiographs, mechanical devices, and handheld rulers. Since different methods yield different results; each of these methods is worthy of scrutiny. This article reviews the methods used to quantify dorsal FRM and offers commentary on how the testing procedures could be standardized. The measurement of dorsal FRM informs surgical decisions, orthotic prescriptions, and research design strategies mostly as it pertains to the identification and treatment of first ray hypermobility. This review found sufficient support to recommend continued use of radiographs and mechanical devices for quantifying dorsal displacement, whereas measurements acquired with handheld rulers are prone to the same subjective error attributed to manual examination procedures. Since measures made with radiographs and existing mechanical devices have their own drawbacks, the commentary recommends ideas for standardizing the testing procedure and calls for the development of a next-generation device to measure dorsal FRM. This future device could be modeled after arthrometers that exist and are used to quantify stability at the knee and ankle. Level of Evidence: Level V, expert opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalFoot and Ankle International
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • arthrometer
  • clinical measurement
  • first metatarsal
  • foot
  • hypermobility


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