Does knee malalignment predict the efficacy of realignment therapy for patients with knee osteoarthritis?

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Realignment therapies, including knee braces, foot orthoses and shoes are prescribed to patients with medial knee osteoarthritis (OA) with the goal of unloading the medial tibiofemoral (TF) compartment. It is uncertain whether realignment therapies have different effects in those with knee malalignment. We studied whether the efficacy of realignment therapy for pain and function in persons with medial TF OA is predicted by the severity of the baseline knee malalignment.


The baseline characteristics of 48 participants with moderate to severe medial knee OA were collected. Participants' pain and function were measured using Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scale before and after 12 weeks of realignment therapy using a valgus unloader knee brace plus bilateral neutral foot orthoses and motion control shoes. Anatomical axis (AA) was measured on weight-bearing knee radiographs by a blinded reader and knee malalignment was categorized as either varus malaligned (moderate or severe) or neutral according to the AA angle. We assessed for differences in response to treatment according to alignment category. General linear statistical models were generated to determine which of the measured alignment variables and covariates predicted change in the pain outcome.


Anatomical axis knee alignment was not a significant predictor of pain or function change with active treatment. Baseline WOMAC scores were the best predictor of change in WOMAC (P < 0.01 and P = 0.06 for pain and function, respectively).


Baseline knee alignment did predict the efficacy of 12 weeks realignment therapy in participants with medial tibiofemoral OA.

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