Ankle strength impairments associated with knee osteoarthritis

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BackgroundKnee Osteoarthritis seems to negatively impact ankle biomechanics. However, the effect of knee osteoarthritis on ankle muscle strength has not been clearly established. This study aimed to evaluate the ankle strength of the plantar flexors and dorsiflexors of patients with knee osteoarthritis in different degrees of severity.MethodsThirty-seven patients with knee osteoarthritis and 15 controls, subjected to clinical and radiographic analysis, were divided into three groups: control, mild, and moderate knee osteoarthritis. Participants answered a self-reported questionnaire and accomplished a muscle torque assessment of the ankle using the Biodex dynamometer in isometric, concentric and eccentric modes.FindingsThe mild osteoarthritis group (peak torque = 26.85(SD 3.58)) was significantly weaker than the control (peak torque = 41.75(SD 4.42)) in concentric plantar flexion (P < 0.05). The control and mild osteoarthritis groups were not significantly different from the moderate osteoarthritis group (peak torque = 36.12(SD 4.61)) in concentric plantar flexion. There were no significant differences for dorsiflexion among the groups; however the control and moderate osteoarthritis groups presented large and medium standardized mean differences. The mild osteoarthritis group was significantly lower than the control and moderate osteoarthritis groups in the concentric plantar flexion by concentric dorsiflexion torque ratio.InterpretationAnkle function exhibited impairments in patients with knee osteoarthritis, especially in the plantar flexion torque, in which the mild osteoarthritis group was weaker than the control. Interestingly, patients with moderate knee osteoarthritis showed results similar to the control group in plantar flexion torque. The results raise the possibility of a compensatory mechanism of the plantar flexors developed by patients in more advanced degrees to balance other muscle failures.HighlightsKnee osteoarthritis subjects exhibit impairment in muscle strength of the ankle.Mild osteoarthritis subjects had lower plantar flexion torque than healthy subjects.Moderate osteoarthritis subjects had similar plantar flexion torque to healthy subjects.The results suggest a possible compensation mechanism carried out by the plantar flexors.

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