Objective. The aim of this study was to use quantitative sensory testing (QST) to explore the range and prevalence of somatosensory abnormalities demonstrated by patients with advanced knee OA.
Methods. One hundred and seven knee OA patients and 50 age- and sex-matched healthy participants attended a 1-h QST session. Testing was performed on the medial side of the knee and the pain-free forearm. Light-touch thresholds were assessed using von Frey filaments, pressure pain thresholds using a digital pressure algometer, and thermal sensation and pain thresholds using a Thermotest MSA. Significant differences in median threshold values from knee OA patients and healthy participants were identified using Mann–Whitney U-tests. The z-score transformations were used to determine the prevalence of the different somatosensory abnormalities in knee OA patients.
Results. Testing identified 70% of knee OA patients as having at least one somatosensory abnormality. Comparison of median threshold values between knee OA patients and healthy participants revealed that patients had localized thermal and tactile hypoaesthesia and pressure hyperalgesia at the osteoarthritic knee. Tactile hypoaesthesia and pressure hyperalgesia were also present at the pain-free forearm. The most prevalent somatosensory abnormalities were tactile hypoaesthesia and pressure hyperalgesia, evident in between 20 and 34% of patients.
Conclusion. This study found that OA patients demonstrate an array of somatosensory abnormalities, of which the most prevalent were tactile hypoaesthesia and pressure hyperalgesia. Further research is now needed to establish the clinical implications of these somatosensory abnormalities.