Single Limb Support Determines the Functional Severity of Knee Osteoarthritis

Can single limb support objectively assess the functional severity of knee osteoarthritis?

Elbaz et al., The Knee, 2011

Background
There is a lack in objective measurements that can assess the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (KOA). In a previous study it was shown that pain and function are in higher correlation with the single-limb support gait parameter than with radiographic KOA stage. Single limb support represents a phase in the gait cycle when the body weight is entirely supported by one limb, while the contra-lateral limb swings forward.

Objective
The purpose of this study was to further examine the relationship between single-limb support and the level of pain and function in patients with KOA.

Methods
125 adults with bilateral KOA underwent a physical and radiographic evaluation, and completed the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and the SF-36 health survey. Patients walked barefoot at a self-selected speed on a computerized mat. Statistical analysis was used to divide the patients into quintiles based on single-limb support phase value and determine the differences in WOMAC and SF-36 scores between quintiles.

Results
Significant differences were found in WOMAC and SF-36 sub-category scores between the single-limb support quintiles. The means of the WOMAC-pain and WOMAC-function sub-categories decreased gradually over single-limb support quintiles (P<0.001), and the means of the SF-36 sub-categories increased gradually over the quintiles (P<0.001). Conclusions Results show that single-limb support quintiles can help determine the level of pain, function and quality of life in patients with KOA. These results suggest that single-limb support quintiles may be added as an additional scale for generally assessing the symptomatic stage of KOA. Read the full text here.

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