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Background

Despite the large number of cross-sectional studies on gait in subjects with knee osteoarthritis, there are scarcely any longitudinal studies on gait changes in knee osteoarthritis.

Methods

Gait analysis was performed on 25 women with early and 18 with established medial knee osteoarthritis, as well as a group of 23 healthy controls. Subjects were asked to walk at their comfortable speed. Kinematic and kinetic data were measured at baseline and after 2 years follow-up.

Findings

Results indicated that the early osteoarthritis group, similar to established osteoarthritis group, showed significantly higher maximum knee adduction angles compared to the controls during the early stance phase of gait. None of the kinematic or kinetic measures, changed over two years in the early osteoarthritis group. In the established osteoarthritis group, at the time of entry, an increased first and second peak knee adduction moment, as well as higher mid-stance knee adduction moment and knee adduction moment impulse, were present compared to the control and the early osteoarthritis groups. Mid-stance knee adduction moment and knee adduction moment impulse, further increased over two years only in the established osteoarthritis group. For all three groups, the peak knee flexion angle during the stance phase decreased significantly over time.

Interpretation

Increased maximum knee adduction angle during stance phase was the only alteration in the gait pattern of subjects with early knee osteoarthritis compared to the controls. This suggests that, unlike in the later stages of the disease, gait is rather stable over two years in early osteoarthritis.

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