Decreased maximal quadriceps strength and voluntary activation has been observed in patients with osteoarthritis in previous studies, but those results do not allow any conclusions to be drawn as to whether quadriceps dysfunction precedes or follows osteoarthritis. Thirty-two patients (group a) who underwent partial meniscectomy 48 ± 9 month prior to the study were matched according to their weight and body mass index with a control group (group b). The twitch interpolation technique was used to determine maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and voluntary activation (VA) of the quadriceps muscle of both legs. Subjective assessment of the knee was performed using the Lysholm-Score. AP and lateral X-rays of the operated knee were obtained. None of the participants showed any evidence of characteristic radiological or clinical signs for osteoarthritis. A significantly lower MVC was noticed in both the affected and the contralateral knee of group a in comparison to group b (p < 0.01). The VA in group a yielded 80.9 ± 15.4% for the injured side and 83.1 ± 11.5% for the contralateral side, with no statistical difference (p = 0.18). The VA in group b was 89.4 ± 5.8% for the right side and 88 ± 6.8% for the left side both being significantly higher in comparison to group a.
This study has shown, that patients following meniscus resection present with bilateral quadriceps weakness as already described in patients with manifest osteoarthritis. The authors hypothesise that muscle dysfunction may be an etiologic factor underlying the pathologic changes of osteoarthritis. Whether muscle dysfunction occurs also at other sites, e.g. in the upper extremity, remains unclear but would be of interest in order to detect a generalized neuromuscular dysfunction. © 2003 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.