Knowledge of the control of the musculoskeletal system in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) during gait is helpful for the development of intervention programs in the management of these patients. The current study aimed to investigate the leg and joint stiffness, aswell as the associated joint kinematics and kinetics, in patients with bilateral medial knee OA during gait. Joint angles, moments and stiffness, as well as leg stiffness from fifteen patients with bilateral knee OA and fifteen normal controls during level walking, were obtained and their values at the beginning and end of single leg stance were compared using a t-test.
Patients with knee OA were found to modulate their leg and joint stiffness through acquired specific biomechanical strategies in order to maintain normal temporal-spatial patterns of gait. During weight acceptance, they increased their leg stiffness with increased knee stiffness but unalterd hip and ankle stiffness. During weight release, they modulated their hip and ankle kinetics with increased knee and ankle stiffness to improve the control stability of the limb with unaltered leg stiffness. It is suggested that muscle strengthening exercise intervention and/or rehabilitation for patients with knee OA should focus on activities that develop and/or maintain functions not only of the knee, but also of the overall lower extremity.