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J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2013 Mar-Apr;103(2):126-35.

The stationary configuration of the knee.

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Univ Tecn Lisboa, Fac Motricidade Humana, CIPER, LBMF, P-1499-002 Lisbon, Portugal.



Ligaments and cartilage contact contribute to the mechanical constraints in the knee joints. However, the precise influence of these structural components on joint movement, especially when the joint constraints are computed using inverse dynamics solutions, is not clear.


We present a mechanical characterization of the connections between the infinitesimal twist of the tibia and the femur due to restraining forces in the specific tissue components that are engaged and responsible for such motion. These components include the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral collateral ligaments and cartilage contact surfaces in the medial and lateral compartments. Their influence on the bony rotation about the instantaneous screw axis is governed by restraining forces along the constraints explored using the principle of reciprocity.


Published kinetic and kinematic joint data (American Society of Mechanical Engineers Grand Challenge Competition to Predict In Vivo Knee Loads) are applied to define knee joint function for verification using an available instrumented knee data set. We found that the line of the ground reaction force (GRF) vector is very close to the axis of the knee joint. It aligns the knee joint with the GRF such that the reaction torques are eliminated. The reaction to the GRF will then be carried by the structural components of the knee instead.


The use of this reciprocal system introduces a new dimension of foot loading to the knee axis alignment. This insight shows that locating knee functional axes is equivalent to the static alignment measurement. This method can be used for the optimal design of braces and orthoses for conservative treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

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