Knee joint kinematics, kinetics and muscle co-contraction in knee osteoarthritis patient gait
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Background Compared to matched controls, knee osteoarthritis patients walk with altered, kinematics, kinetics and muscle activity. Studies of osteoarthritis patient gait have focused on individual measures, and findings from these studies differ due to differences in patient levels of disability and age. Therefore, aims of this study were to examine kinematic, kinetic and muscle co-contraction gait variables within a single osteoarthritis patient group, and to determine if alterations in these variables are related to pain, symptom and function measures. Methods Thirty asymptomatic controls and 54 patients with radiographic evidence of knee osteoarthritis participated. Self-perceived measures of pain and symptoms, and gait (knee joint angles, moments and muscle co-contraction) were analysed and compared. Findings Osteoarthritis patients had greater self-perceived pain and symptoms on the questionnaires. Gait differences in the knee osteoarthritis patients were greater knee flexion at heel strike and during early stance along with reductions in the peak external knee extension moment in late stance. Co-contraction ratios highlighted greater lateral muscle activation in osteoarthritis patients, which were correlated with the magnitude of their adduction moments. Larger adduction moments were related to lower self-perceived pain and symptoms. Interpretation Osteoarthritis patients use predominantly lateral muscle activation during stance which may aid in stabilising the external knee adduction moment. Kinematic alterations in knee osteoarthritis patient gait occur without alterations in knee joint moments. Our results also suggest that adduction moments are lowered to reduce the patients' pain and symptoms.