The aim of this study was to examine the loading of the other joints of the lower limb in patients with unilateral osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. We recruited 20 patients with no other symptoms or deformity in the lower limbs from a consecutive cohort of patients awaiting knee replacement. Gait analysis and electromyographic recordings were performed to determine moments at both knees and hips, and contraction patterns in the medial and lateral quadriceps and hamstrings bilaterally. The speed of gait was reduced in the group with OA compared with the controls, but there were only minor differences in stance times between the limbs. Patients with OA of the knee had significant increases in adduction moment impulse at both knees and the contralateral hip (adjusted p-values: affected knee: p < 0.01, unaffected knee p = 0.048, contralateral hip p = 0.03), and significantly increased muscular co-contraction bilaterally compared with controls (all comparisons for co-contraction, p < 0.01).
The other major weight-bearing joints are at risk from abnormal biomechanics in patients with unilateral OA of the knee.