Differential knee joint loading patterns during gait for individuals with tibiofemoral and patellofemoral articular cartilage defects in the knee.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine compartment-specific loading patterns during gait, quantified as joint reaction forces (JRF), of individuals with knee articular cartilage defects (ACD) compared to healthy controls (HC).

METHODS

Individuals with ACDs and HC participated. Individuals with ACDs were divided into groups according to ACD location: PF (only a patellofemoral ACD), TF (only a tibiofemoral ACD), and MIX (both PF and TF ACDs). Participants underwent three-dimensional gait analysis at self-selected speed. TF joint reaction force (TF-JRF) was calculated using inverse dynamics. PF joint reaction force (PF-JRF) was derived from estimated quadriceps force (FQUAD) and knee flexion angle. Primary variables of interest were the PF- and TF-JRF peaks (body weight [×BW]). Related secondary variables (gait speed, quadriceps strength, knee function, activity level) were evaluated as covariates.

RESULTS

First peak PF-JRF and TF-JRF were similar in the TF and MIX groups (0.75-1.0 ×BW, P = 0.6-0.9). Both peaks were also similar in the PF and HC groups (1.1-1.3 ×BW, P = 0.7-0.8), and higher than the TF and MIX groups (P = 0.004-0.02). For the second peak PF-JRF, only the HC group was higher than the TF group (P = 0.02). The PF group walked at a similar speed as the HC group; both groups walked faster than the TF and MIX groups (P < 0.001). With gait speed and quadriceps strength as covariates, no differences were observed in JRF peaks.

CONCLUSIONS

The results suggest the presence of a TF ACD (TF and MIX groups), but not a PF ACD (PF group), may affect joint loading patterns during walking. Walking slower may be a protective gait modification to reduce load.

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