Vastus Medialis Obliquus Atrophy: Does It Exist in Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?

Quadriceps atrophy and in particular atrophy of the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) muscle have been frequently related with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), despite very little objective evidence. HYPOTHESIS: Patients with PFPS exhibit atrophy of the VMO in comparison with healthy controls. Forty-six patients with PFPS and 30 healthy control persons with similar age, gender, body mass index, and activity index distributions underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the quadriceps participated. The muscle size was determined by calculating the cross-sectional area of the total quadriceps and its components. The cross-sectional area (CSA) of the VMO was significantly smaller in the PFPS group than in the control group (16.67 ± 4.97 cm(2) vs 18.36 ± 5.25 cm(2)) (P = .040). A tendency was noted for a smaller total quadriceps CSA for the PFPS patients at midthigh level (66.99 ± 15.06 cm(2) vs 70.83 ± 15.30 cm(2)) (P = .074).

This is the first study to examine VMO size in PFPS patients by MRI. Patients with patellofemoral problems exhibited atrophy of the VMO. Although it is not clear whether this atrophy is a result or a cause of PFPS, the results of this study do show that atrophy of the VMO is a contributing factor in PFPS. Longitudinal, prospective studies are needed to establish the cause-effect relation of VMO atrophy and PFPS.

Pattyn E, Verdonk P, Steyaert A, Vanden Bossche L, Van den Broecke W, Thijs Y, Witvrouw E. Vastus Medialis Obliquus Atrophy: Does It Exist in Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome? Am J Sports Med. 2011 Apr 12;

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Research article posted by: Rachael Lowe

Rachael Lowe is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Physiopedia. A physiotherapist and technology specialist Rachael has been working with Physiopedia since 2008 to create a resource that provides universal access to physiotherapy knowledge as well as a platform for connecting and educating the global physiotherapy profession.

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