Osteoarthritis year in review 2020: mechanics
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The mechanical environment of the joint during dynamic activity plays a significant role in osteoarthritis processes. Understanding how the magnitude, pattern and duration of joint-specific loading features contribute to osteoarthritis progression and response to treatment is a topic of on-going relevance. This narrative review synthesizes evidence from recent papers that have contributed to knowledge related to three identified emerging subthemes: 1) the role of the joint mechanical environment in osteoarthritis pathogenesis, 2) joint biomechanics as an outcome to arthroplasty treatment of osteoarthritis, and 3) methodological trends for advancing our knowledge of the role of biomechanics in osteoarthritis. Rather than provide an exhaustive review of a broad area of research, we have focused on evidence this year related to these subthemes. New research this year has indicated significant interest in using biomechanics investigations to understand structural vs clinical progression of osteoarthritis, the role and interaction in the three-dimensional loading environment of the joint, and the contribution of muscle activation and forces to osteoarthritis progression. There is ongoing interest in understanding how patient variability with respect to gait biomechanics influences arthroplasty surgery outcomes, and subgroup analyses have provided evidence for the potential utility in tailored treatment approaches. Finally, we are seeing a growing trend in the application of translational biomechanics tools such as wearable inertial measurement units for improved integration of biomechanics into clinical decision-making and outcomes assessment for osteoarthritis.
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