Lean muscle volume of the thigh has a stronger relationship with muscle power than muscle strength in women with knee osteoarthritis
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BACKGROUND: Thigh lean muscle and intramuscular fat have been implicated in the impairment of physical function observed in people with knee osteoarthritis. We investigated the relationships of quadriceps and hamstrings intramuscular fat fraction and lean muscle volume with muscle power and strength, controlling for neuromuscular activation, and physical performance in women with knee OA. METHODS: Women (n=20) 55years or older with symptomatic, radiographic knee osteoarthritis underwent a 3.0T magnetic resonance imaging scan of the thigh of their most symptomatic knee. Axial fat-separated images were analyzed using software to quantify intramuscular fat and lean muscle volumes of the quadriceps and hamstrings. To quantify strength and power of the knee extensors and flexors, participants performed maximum voluntary isometric contraction and isotonic knee extensions and flexions, respectively. Electromyography of the quadriceps and hamstrings was measured. Participants also completed five physical performance tests. FINDINGS: Quadriceps and hamstrings lean muscle volumes were related to isotonic knee extensor (B=0.624; p=0.017) and flexor (B=1.518; p=0.032) power, but not knee extensor (B=0.001; p=0.615) or flexor (B=0.001; p=0.564) isometric strength. Intramuscular fat fractions were not related to isotonic knee extensor or flexor power, nor isometric strength. No relationships were found between intramuscular fat or lean muscle volume and physical performance. INTERPRETATION: Muscle power may be more sensitive than strength to lean muscle mass in women with knee osteoarthritis. Thigh lean muscle mass, but neither intramuscular nor intermuscular fat, is related to knee extensor and flexor power in women with knee osteoarthritis.
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