Factors affecting knee joint muscle activation patterns during gait in individuals with knee osteoarthritis
MetadataShow full item record
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive disease and a leading cause of morbidity in older adults, resulting in severe mobility limitations. While the osteoligamentous and neuromuscular systems are altered in knee OA, little data is available to illustrate an association among these systems. The objective of this dissertation was to improve our understanding of how muscle activation patterns during gait are altered across the knee OA severity spectrum and to examine how factors related to the OA process are associated with these alterations. Three independent but related studies were conducted. Muscle activation of the medial and lateral orientations of the gastrocnemii, quadriceps and hamstrings were recorded during gait using surface electromyography for all three studies. Key activation features were identified using principal component analysis. First, participants selected from a large group (n=272) of individuals classified as asymptomatic, ii) moderate ii) severe knee OA were matched for walking velocity. Significant amplitude and temporal activation characteristics were found, supporting that differences among OA severities exist and were not the result of walking velocity only. Secondly, individuals with moderate OA were sub-grouped based on structural severity determined using Kellgren-Lawrence radiographic scores (II-IV) and were compared to a velocity-matched asymptomatic group. Medial gastrocnemius, lateral hamstring and quadriceps amplitudes and temporal patterns were significantly altered by structural severity where significant activation imbalances between the lateral:medial gastrocnemii and hamstrings were found with greater structural impairment (score>II). Thirdly, individuals with moderate OA were prospectively evaluated and divided into knee effusion and no effusion groups, based on a positive bulge test. A significantly higher knee flexion angle during mid-stance, higher quadriceps amplitudes and prolonged hamstrings amplitudes were found when effusion was found. These studies showed that muscle activation patterns during walking were related to i) OA presence and severity based on functional, symptoms and radiographic evidence, ii) structural severity and iii) knee joint effusion. These findings improve our understanding of the interrelationships between alterations in joint structure and function associated with knee OA and muscle activation patterns during gait. These data can contribute to the development of gait-based metrics that can facilitate knee OA diagnosis and monitor progression.