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J Biomech. 2014 Apr 11;47(6):1409-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2014.01.038. Epub 2014 Jan 30.

Selective lateral muscle activation in moderate medial knee osteoarthritis subjects does not unload medial knee condyle.

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Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen׳s University, McLaughlin Hall, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6. Electronic address:
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen׳s University, McLaughlin Hall, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706, USA.


There is some debate in the literature regarding the role of quadriceps-hamstrings co-contraction in the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Does co-contraction during walking increase knee contact loads, thereby causing knee osteoarthritis, or might it be a compensatory mechanism to unload the medial tibial condyle? We used a detailed musculoskeletal model of the lower limb to test the hypothesis that selective activation of lateral hamstrings and quadriceps, in conjunction with inhibited medial gastrocnemius, can actually reduce the joint contact force on the medial compartment of the knee, independent of changes in kinematics or external forces. "Baseline" joint loads were computed for eight subjects with moderate medial knee osteoarthritis (OA) during level walking, using static optimization to resolve the system of muscle forces for each subject's scaled model. Holding all external loads and kinematics constant, each subject's model was then perturbed to represent non-optimal "OA-type" activation based on mean differences detected between electromyograms (EMG) of control and osteoarthritis subjects. Knee joint contact forces were greater for the "OA-type" than the "Baseline" distribution of muscle forces, particularly during early stance. The early-stance increase in medial contact load due to the "OA-type" perturbation could implicate this selective activation strategy as a cause of knee osteoarthritis. However, the largest increase in the contact load was found at the lateral condyle, and the "OA-type" lateral activation strategy did not increase the overall (greater of the first or second) medial peak contact load. While "OA-type" selective activation of lateral muscles does not appear to reduce the medial knee contact load, it could allow subjects to increase knee joint stiffness without any further increase to the peak medial contact load.


Computer Model; Gait; Knee Contact; Osteoarthritis

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