The relation of MRI-detected structural damage in the medial and lateral patellofemoral joint to knee pain: the Multicenter and Framingham Osteoarthritis Studies

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Apr;23(4):565-70. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2014.12.023. Epub 2015 Jan 7.


Objective: To examine the relation of cartilage loss and bone marrow lesions (BMLs) in the medial and lateral patellofemoral joint (PFJ) to knee pain.

Methods: We categorized the location of full-thickness cartilage loss and BMLs in the PFJ on knee magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) from the Multicenter Osteoarthritis (MOST) and Framingham Osteoarthritis (FOA) Studies as no damage, isolated medial, isolated lateral, or both medial and lateral (mixed). We determined the relation of MRI lesions in each PFJ region to prevalent knee pain. Differences in knee pain severity were compared among categories of PFJ full-thickness cartilage loss and BMLs using quantile regression.

Results: In MOST (n = 1137 knees), compared with knees without full-thickness cartilage loss, knees with isolated lateral or mixed PFJ full-thickness cartilage loss had 1.9 (1.3, 2.8) and 1.9 (1.2, 2.9) times the odds of knee pain, respectively, while isolated medial cartilage loss had no association with knee pain. BMLs in both the medial and lateral PFJ had 1.5 (1.1, 2.0) times the odds of knee pain compared with knees without BMLs. Knee pain severity was lowest in knees with isolated medial PFJ cartilage loss or BMLs. In FOA (n = 934 knees), neither isolated medial nor lateral cartilage loss was associated with knee pain, whereas isolated BMLs in either region were associated with pain.

Conclusions: Results were not completely concordant but suggest that knee pain risk and severity is greatest with cartilage loss isolated to (MOST) or inclusive of (MOST and FOA) the lateral PFJ. While BMLs in either the medial or lateral PFJ are related to pain.

Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Patellofemoral.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology*
  • Patellofemoral Joint / pathology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index