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Objective

To determine whether people with patellofemoral (PF) joint osteoarthritis (OA) ascend and descend stairs with different PF joint loading, knee joint moments, lower limb kinematics, and muscle forces compared to healthy people.

Methods

We recruited 17 participants with isolated PF joint OA, 13 participants with concurrent PF joint OA and tibiofemoral (TF) joint OA, and 21 age-matched controls. Joint kinematics and ground reaction forces were measured while participants ascended and descended stairs at a self-selected speed. Musculoskeletal computer modeling was used to determine lower limb muscle forces and the PF joint reaction force, and these parameters were compared between groups by analysis of variance.

Results

Compared to their healthy counterparts, participants with isolated PF joint OA and participants with concurrent PF and TF joint OA ascended and descended stairs with lower knee extension moments, lower quadriceps muscle forces, lower PF joint reaction forces, and increased anterior pelvic tilt. Participants with OA also ascended stairs with increased hip flexion angles and descended stairs with smaller knee flexion angles and smaller hip abductor muscle forces. No differences were evident between the two groups with OA.

Conclusion

Compared to their healthy counterparts, people with PF joint OA (with or without concurrent TF joint OA) exhibit lower PF joint reaction forces during stair ascent and descent, in conjunction with lower knee extension moments and lower quadriceps muscle forces.