Muscle weakness, afferent sensory dysfunction and exercise in knee osteoarthritis

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2011 Jan;7(1):57-63. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2010.195. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Lower-extremity muscle strength and afferent sensory dysfunction, such as reduced proprioceptive acuity, are potentially modifiable putative risk factors for knee osteoarthritis (OA). Findings from current studies suggest that muscle weakness is a predictor of knee OA onset, while there is conflicting evidence regarding the role of muscle weakness in OA progression. In contrast, the literature suggests a role for afferent sensory dysfunction in OA progression but not necessarily in OA onset. The few pilot exercise studies performed in patients who are at risk of incident OA indicate a possibility for achieving preventive structure or load modifications. In contrast, large randomized controlled trials of patients with established OA have failed to demonstrate beneficial effects of strengthening exercises. Subgroups of individuals who are at increased risk of knee OA (such as those with previous knee injuries) are easily identified, and may benefit from exercise interventions to prevent or delay OA onset.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / prevention & control
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome