Muscle and external load contribution to knee joint contact loads during normal gait
Large knee adduction moments during gait have been implicated as a mechanical factor related to the progression and severity of tibiofemoral osteoarthritis and it has been proposed that these moments increase the load on the medial compartment of the knee joint. However, this mechanism cannot be validated without taking into account the internal forces and moments generated by the muscles and ligaments, which cannot be easily measured. Previous musculoskeletal models suggest that the medial compartment of the tibiofemoral joint bears the majority of the tibiofemoral load, with the lateral compartment unloaded at times during stance. Yet these models did not utilise explicitly measured muscle activation patterns and measurements from an instrumented prosthesis which do not portray lateral compartment unloading. This paper utilised an EMG-driven model to estimate muscle forces and knee joint contact forces during healthy gait. Results indicate that while the medial compartment does bear the majority of the load during stance, muscles provide sufficient stability to counter the tendency of the external adduction moment to unload the lateral compartment. This stability was predominantly provided by the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gastrocnemii muscles, although the contribution from the tensor fascia latae was also significant. Lateral compartment unloading was not predicted by the EMG-driven model, suggesting that muscle activity patterns provide useful input to estimate muscle and joint contact forces.
Journal of Biomechanics