Muscle Function During Selected Weight-Bearing Activities in Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis- A Narrative Overview

Ray Marks


BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis, a highly disabling long-term health condition is often resistant to standard treatment approaches focused solely on pain relief. Potentially implicated as a factor in the disease process, muscle is often a recommended target for intervention to alleviate the disability.

QUESTIONS: How much research has been conducted to support the role of muscle in the disease process? Are muscular responses during functional tasks altered among adults with knee joint osteoarthritis? Can a case be made for an association between muscle dysfunction during functional tasks and osteoarthritic joint damage at the knee?

METHODS: Reports from major data bases aligned with this topic and extending from 1950-2016, were first examined to ascertain the extent to which muscle appears to have been examined as a potentially important correlate of knee joint osteoarthritis disability, in general. Data detailing muscle responses during weight-bearing tasks among knee osteoarthritis cases were then specifically examined. A narrative report was generated in light of the lack of any consistency in the available studies.

RESULTS: There is a substantive literature that has focused on muscle structural and function and their relationship to osteoarthritis disability, but most studies did not examine muscle function relative to functional weight-bearing activities. Among the latter, while there is some consensus that muscles around the osteoarthritic knee function differently in some cases from those of the healthy knee, it is not clear whether this alteration is protective or pathological.

CONCLUSION: Although all forms of muscle associated interventions appear to produce more favorable outcomes than not in this cohort, more work on what aspects of muscle function should be targeted is desirable in efforts to drive more efficacious treatment and preventive practices, and clearly requires some unifying hypothesis or framework to guide the desired research.


Functional Activity; Gait; Knee Joint; Muscle; Osteoarthritis; Pathology; Treatment

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