Muscle contraction can subject healing knee ligament grafts to high loads.Background
Purpose: To directly measure the effects of quadriceps and hamstrings muscle loads on forces in the anterior cruciate ligaments and posterior cruciate ligaments.Study Design
Controlled laboratory study.Study Design
Methods: Thirteen cadaveric knee specimens had load cells installed to record resultant forces in both anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments under 5 loading conditions. Cruciate force measurements were repeated with a 100-N load applied to the quadriceps tendon and again with a combined 50-N biceps load and 50-N semimembranosus-semitendinosus load.Results
Applied quadriceps loads resulted in mean changes in anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament forces that were less than 20 N for all loading conditions. Hamstrings load significantly increased mean posterior cruciate ligament force between 30° and 105° of flexion with 100 N of applied posterior tibial force.Results
Conclusions: At the muscle force levels used in this study, the hamstrings were more effective than the quadriceps in altering cruciate force levels, especially near 90° of flexion, where they have an excellent mechanical advantage for controlling anterior-posterior tibial translation.Clinical Relevance
Isolated hamstrings activity generally had little or no effect on anterior cruciate ligament forces but significantly increased forces in the posterior cruciate ligament beyond approximately 30° of flexion.