Association between MRI-defined OA, pain, function & strength 3-10 years post knee injury in youth sport.

Youth and young adults who participate in sport have an increased risk of knee injury and subsequent osteoarthritis. Improved understanding of the relationship between structural and clinical outcomes postinjury could inform targeted osteoarthritis prevention interventions. This secondary analysis examines the association between MRI-defined osteoarthritis and self-reported and functional outcomes, 3-10 years following youth sport-related knee injury in comparison to healthy controls.

Participants included a subsample (n=146) of the Alberta Youth Prevention of Early Osteoarthritis cohort: specifically, 73 individuals with 3-10 years history of sport-related intra-articular knee injury and 73 age-matched, sex-matched and sport-matched controls with completed MRI studies. Outcomes included: MRI-defined osteoarthritis, radiographic osteoarthritis, Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, Intermittent and Constant Osteoarthritis Pain, knee extensor/flexor strength, triple-hop and Y-balance test. Descriptive statistics and univariate logistic regression were used to compare those with and without MRI-defined osteoarthritis. Associations between MRI-defined osteoarthritis and each outcome were assessed using multivariable linear regression considering the influence of injury history, sex, body mass index and time since injury.

Participant median age was 23 years (range 15-27), and 63% were female. MRI-defined osteoarthritis varied by injury history, injury type and surgical history and was not isolated to participants with ACL and/or meniscal injuries. Those with a previous knee injury had 10-fold (95% CI 2.3 to 42.8) greater odds of MRI-defined osteoarthritis than uninjured participants. MRI-defined osteoarthritis was independently significantly associated with quality of life, but not symptoms, strength or function.

MRI-detected structural changes 3-10 years following youth sport-related knee injury may not dictate clinical symptomatology, strength or function but may influence quality of life.