Runners with Patellofemoral Pain Exhibit Greater Peak Patella Cartilage Stress Compared to Pain-Free Runners

The purpose of this study is to determine whether recreational runners with patellofemoral pain (PFP) exhibit greater peak patella cartilage stress compared to pain-free runners. A secondary purpose was to determine the kinematic and/or kinetic predictors of peak patella cartilage stress during running.

Twenty-two female recreational runners participated (12 with PFP and 10 pain-free controls). Patella cartilage stress profiles were quantified using subject-specific finite element models simulating the maximum knee flexion angle during stance phase of running. Input parameters to the finite element model included subject-specific patellofemoral joint geometry, quadriceps muscle forces, and lower extremity kinematics in the frontal and transverse planes. Tibiofemoral joint kinematics and kinetics were quantified to determine the best predictor of stress using stepwise regression analysis.

Compared to the pain-free runners, those with PFP exhibited greater peak hydrostatic pressure (PFP vs. control, 21.2 ± 5.6 MPa vs. 16.5 ± 4.6 MPa) and maximum shear stress (11.3 ± 4.6 MPa vs. 8.7 ± 2.3 MPa). Knee external rotation was the best predictor of peak hydrostatic pressure and peak maximum shear stress (38% and 25% of variances, respectively) followed by the knee extensor moment (21% and 25% of variances, respectively).

Runners with PFP exhibit greater peak patella cartilage stress during running compared to pain-free individuals. The combination of knee external rotation and a high knee extensor moment best predicted elevated peak stress during running.

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