Longitudinal evidence links joint level mechanics and muscle activation patterns to 3-year medial joint space narrowing
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BACKGROUND: It is currently not known if there are different mechanical factors involved in accelerated rates of knee osteoarthritis structural progression. Data regarding the role of the transverse plane moment along with the contributions to joint loading from muscle activity, a primary contributor to the joint loading environment, is not well represented in the current literature on knee OA radiographic progression. The objective of this study was to understand if a 3-year end point corroborates what has been shown for longer term radiographic progression or provides more insight into factors that may be implicated in more accelerated radiographic progression than those shown previously. METHODS: 52 participants visited the Dynamics of Human Motion laboratory at baseline for three-dimensional, self-selected speed over ground walking gait analysis. Differences in magnitude and patterns of 3D knee moments and electromyography waveforms between participants who progressed radiographically from those that did not were compared using t-tests (P < 0.05). FINDINGS: Features of the frontal and transverse plane knee moments along with muscle activation patterns for the lateral gastrocnemius and lateral hamstrings differentiated the progression group from the non-progression group at baseline. INTERPRETATION: In general, the walking gait biomechanics of the progression group in this 3-year radiographic study aligned well with previously reported characteristics of diagnosed or symptomatic osteoarthritis. The higher rotation moment range during stance found with the progression group is a novel finding that points to a need to better understand torsional joint loading and its implications for loading of the knee joint tissues.
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