patellofemoral pain

Influence of Experimental Knee Pain on Bilateral Loading Patterns during Walking in Healthy Individuals

Purpose: Knee pain is a chief symptom of knee pathology. Both acute and chronic knee pain result in altered joint loads during walking, which potentially result in mechanical and biological changes in knee articular cartilage. Due to confounding factors in clinical knee pain (effusion, muscle weakness, inflammation, structural changes), it is difficult to examine the independent effect of knee pain on walking mechanics. The purpose of this study is to examine whether unilateral experimentally induced knee pain influences bilateral loading patterns during walking in healthy individuals. Methods: This study was a controlled laboratory, cross-over trial. Each of 30 able-bodied subjects (M = 20, F = 10; 23 ± 2.4 yrs, 71 ± 12.7 kg, 178 ± 8.2 cm) completed three experimental sessions: pain (5.0% NaCl infusion), sham (0.9% NaCl infusion), and control (no infusion) in a counterbalanced order, 2 days apart (a washout period). For the experimental sessions, hypertonic (5% NaCl) or isotonic (0.9% NaCl) saline was continuously infused into the right (involved limb) infrapatellar fat pad using a portable infusion pump, which produced a continuous saline flow of 0.154mL/min (total 2.16 mL) for 14 min for the pain or sham session, respectively. No infusion was administered to the control session. Subjects and investigators were blinded regarding the saline solution which was being infused. During each of three experimental sessions, subjects performed 30-sec gait trials at a self-selected speed at two time points (pre- and post-infusion). Ground reaction force (GRF) data were collected using an AMTI instrumented force-sensing tandem treadmill (1200 Hz). The first 4 successful gait cycles in each limb were used for data analysis. A functional data analysis approach (α = .05) was used to detect time (pre- and post-infusion) x limb (involved vs. uninvolved) interactions for the vertical, anterior-posterior, and medial-lateral GRF. Results: Significant time x limb interactions were observed during the pain session (hypertonic saline; 5.0% NaCl; p < .05). Experimental knee pain resulted in up to (i) 0.05 N/kg less vertical GRF and 0.02 N/kg more vertical GRF during various stance phases, (ii) 0.01 N/kg less breaking GRF during loading response, and (iii) 0.007 N/kg less lateral GRF and 0.007 N/kg more lateral GRF during various stance phases in the involved limb. Conclusions: Relative to the pre-infusion condition, subjects during the knee pain condition tended to walk with less vertical, posterior and lateral GRF in the involved limb (painful limb) across various portions of stance, which simultaneously increased loads in the uninvolved limb (non-painful limb). Our data suggest that compensatory loading patterns occur simultaneously for the involved and uninvolved limbs. This unloading pattern in the involved limb may be due to perception of knee pain, which can make subjects feel fear for damaging or provoking pain more during walking. Moreover, voluntary and/or involuntary quadriceps inhibition (e.g., neuromuscular activation and strength) due to experimentally induced knee pain may play a role in reducing the loads in the involved limb because the quadriceps support the center of body mass eccentrically from initial loading response to midstance to prevent collapse of the lower limbs. These asymmetrical loading patterns due to knee pain and associated with neural inhibition may be a risk factor for knee joint disease progression via changes in mechanical components.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait

Predictors of patellofemoral joint stress: an examination of patellofemoral joint morphology

INTRODUCTION: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) is a common condition seen in orthopedic practice, accounting for approximately 25-40% of all knee injuries [1]. A commonly cited hypothesis as to the cause of PFP is elevated patellofemoral joint (PFJ) stress [2] secondary to abnormal PFJ structure. Previous studies have shown that persons with PFP exhibit altered patella position [3], abnormal femoral morphology [4], and decreased patella cartilage thickness [5] when compared to healthy individuals. However, the influence of the abnormal morphology on PFJ stress is unknown. METHODS: Nineteen subjects (10 PFP and 9 pain-free controls) were recruited for this study. Each subject completed 2 phases of data collection: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessment and biomechanical testing. The measurement of morphological variables (patella height (Insall-Salvati ratio or ISR), lateral trochlear inclination angle (LTI), and patella cartilage thickness). For the biomechanical testing, kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic were obtained. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Pearson correlation coefficients revealed that only patella height (r=0.48, p=0.018) and patella cartilage thickness (r=-0.58, p=0.005) were significantly correlated with peak hydrostatic pressure (Table 1). Results of the stepwise regression analysis revealed that patella cartilage thickness was the single best predictor of peak hydrostatic pressure, followed by patella height. Together, these 2 variables explained 50% of the variance in peak PFJ stress. The results of the current study support the premise that PFJ stress is associated with PFJ morphology. Patella height was the best predictor of PFJ stress with greater degrees of patella height being correlated with greater stress. This is logical given that a higher positioned patella articulates with the more shallow portion of the trochlear groove, thus decreasing PFJ contact area [6]. The finding that patella cartilage thickness was negatively correlated with PFJ stress is in agreement with the results of Li et al. [7], who demonstrated that a reduction of cartilage thickness causes increase cartilage stress. Furthermore, our findings revealed that 50% of the variance in PFJ stress could be explained by morphological factors. CONCLUSIONS: Identifying the underlying factors that contribute to elevated PFJ stress is an important step in developing effective interventions for persons with PFP. Although abnormal structure may not be correctable through conservative measures, it is important to recognize abnormal structure may play a role in contributing to pain and pathology.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Sports Science

Influence of femur rotation and knee valgus on patellofemoral stress

Background: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) is a common condition seen in orthopedic practice. A commonly cited hypothesis as to the cause of PFP is increased patellofemoral joint (PFJ) stress secondary to abnormal lower extremity kinematics (ie. excessive hip internal rotation and knee valgus). However, the influence of these motions on PFJ contact mechanics is unknown. Purpose: To assess the influence of hip rotation and knee valgus on PFJ stress using finite element (FE) analysis. Methods: Patella cartilage stress profiles for a healthy participant were quantified utilizing a subject-specific FE model. Input parameters included: joint geometry, quadriceps muscle forces, and weight-bearing PFJ kinematics. Using a nonlinear FE solver, quasi-static loading simulations were performed to quantify patella cartilage stress during a static squatting maneuver (45° knee flexion). To simulate hip rotation (0-8°) and knee valgus (0-12°), the femur and tibia were rotated in the transverse and frontal plane respectively in 2° increments. Results: Increasing hip rotation resulted in a linear increase in patella cartilage stress. In contrast, increasing knee valgus resulted in a decrease in patella cartilage stress. The combination of hip rotation and knee valgus did not result in higher PFJ cartilage stress compared to isolated hip rotation. Conclusions: Patella cartilage stress appears to be influenced to a greater degree by hip internal rotation as opposed to knee valgus. Surprisingly, higher degrees of knee valgus resulted in decreased cartilage stress (in the absence of hip rotation). Our finding supports the premise that persons exhibiting excessive hip internal rotation may be pre-disposed to elevated patella cartilage stress.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Physical Therapy