The relationship between muscle capacity utilization during gait and pain in people with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis
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BACKGROUND: Muscle capacity utilization reflects the percentage of maximal knee extensor strength required to complete physical activities. RESEARCH QUESTION: Is pain associated with muscle capacity utilization during walking in older adults with knee osteoarthritis? Secondarily, is muscle capacity utilization in older adults with knee osteoarthritis sex-specific? METHODS: Twenty-three participants (15 females) with symptomatic knee OA completed this study [age 67 ( ± 8) years, body mass index 29.7 ( ± 3.9) kg/m2, gait speed during the Six Minute Walk test 1.25 ( ± 0.25) m/s]. Pain was measured using the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score. Muscle capacity utilization was quantified as the peak external knee flexor moment during level walking normalized to knee extensor maximum voluntary isometric contraction. The knee flexor moment was calculated from kinematic and kinetic data during barefoot level walking at a self-selected speed and at 1.1 m/s. Knee extensor maximum voluntary isometric contraction was measured on a dynamometer. Multiple linear regressions were used to determine the relationship between pain and muscle capacity utilization after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, and gait speed. Independent sample t-tests examined sex differences. RESULTS: Pain was not associated with muscle capacity utilization during self-selected and standardized walking speeds (p = 0.38 and p = 0.36, respectively). Females did not require a greater muscle capacity utilization than males to complete gait at self-selected and standardized speeds (p = 0.28, and p = 0.40, respectively). SIGNIFICANCE: Muscle capacity utilization was not associated with pain during walking in people with knee osteoarthritis. Future work should explore more challenging activities of daily living in knee OA.
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