© 2014 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 32:989–996, 2014.

Postural response to vibration of triceps surae, but not quadriceps muscles, differs between people with and without knee osteoarthritis

Camille J. Shanahan Tim V. Wrigley Michael J. Farrell Kim L. Bennell Paul W. Hodges

Although proprioceptive impairments are reported in knee osteoarthritis (OA), there has been little investigation of the underlying causes. Muscle spindles make an important contribution to proprioception. This study investigated whether function of quadriceps, triceps surae, and tibialis anterior muscle spindles is altered in individuals with knee OA. Thirty individuals with knee OA (17 females, 66 ± 7 [mean ± SD] years) and 30 healthy asymptomatic controls (17 females, 65 ± 8 years) stood comfortably and blindfolded on a force plate. Mechanical vibration (60 Hz) was applied bilaterally over the quadriceps, triceps surae, or tibialis anterior muscles for the middle 15 s (Vibration) of a 45 s trial (preceded and followed by 15 s Baseline and Recovery periods). Two trials were recorded for each muscle site. Mean anterior–posterior displacement of centre of pressure was analysed. Although there were no differences between groups for trials with vibration applied to the quandriceps or tibialis anterior, participants with knee OA were initially perturbed more by triceps surae vibration and accommodated less to repeated exposure than controls. This indicates that people with knee OA have less potential to detect or compensate for disturbed input to triceps surae, possibly due to an inability to compensate using muscles spindles in the quadriceps muscle.

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