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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2002 Jul;10(7):573-9.

Increased knee joint loads during walking are present in subjects with knee osteoarthritis.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush Medical College of Rush University, Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.



This study tests the hypothesis that the peak external knee adduction moment during gait is increased in a group of ambulatory subjects with knee osteoarthritis (OA) of varying radiographic severity who are being managed with medical therapy. Tibiofemoral knee OA more commonly affects the medial compartment. The external knee adduction moment can be used to assess the load distribution between the medial and lateral compartments of the knee joint. Additionally, this study tests if changes in the knee angles, such as a reduced midstance knee flexion angle, or reduced sagittal plane moments previously identified by others as load reducing mechanisms are present in this OA group.


Thirty-one subjects with radiographic evidence of knee OA and medial compartment cartilage damage were gait tested after a 2-week drug washout period. Thirty-one normal subjects (asymptomatic control subjects) with a comparable age, weight and height distribution were also tested. Significant differences in the sagittal plane knee motion and peak external moments between the normal and knee OA groups were identified using t tests.


Subjects with knee OA walked with a greater than normal peak external knee adduction moment (P=0.003). The midstance knee flexion angle was not significantly different between the two groups (P=0.625) nor were the peak flexion and extension moments (P> 0.037).


Load reducing mechanisms, such as a decreased midstance knee flexion angle, identified by others in subjects with endstage knee OA or reduced external flexion or extension moments were not present in this group of subjects with knee OA who were being managed by conservative treatment. The finding of a significantly greater than normal external knee adduction moment in the knee OA group lends support to the hypothesis that an increased knee adduction moment during gait is associated with knee OA.

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