Quadriceps weakness preferentially predicts detrimental gait compensations among common impairments after total knee arthroplasty

J Orthop Res. 2018 Sep;36(9):2355-2363. doi: 10.1002/jor.23894. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Patients with total knee arthroplasty (TKA) have large deficits in physical performance in comparison to their healthy age-matched peers. Limb asymmetry stemming from less relative load borne by the surgical limb during daily mobility is associated with diminished performance and worsens with greater mobility demands. How common targets of postoperative care, such as muscle weakness, lower limb extension power, residual knee pain, and poor balance confidence can influence asymmetrical limb loading remains unclear. Forty-six patients with unilateral TKA underwent testing of impairments and motion analysis during 10° decline walking at 3 and 6 months postoperatively. At 3 months, only quadriceps femoris strength asymmetry was found to be significantly related to both total support moment (MT ) (β = 0.431; p < 0.001) and knee extensor moment (MK ) (β = 0.493; p < 0.001) asymmetry. Again at 6 months, only quadriceps strength asymmetry was related to MT (β = 0.432; p < 0.001) and MK (β = 0.534; p < 0.001) asymmetry. Quadriceps strength significantly improved over time in both limbs, however, deficits between limbs remained. Persistent quadriceps weakness is a key factor associated with walking compensation patterns that are limiting the capacity for greater physical performance of patients with TKA. The pronounced asymmetry in limb and knee loading at 3 months remains unchanged until at least 6 months after surgery, and its association with quadriceps strength asymmetry does not substantially change over time. While other factors may also prompt gait compensations, emphasis on improved quadriceps strength should be a focus of efforts to resolve gait compensations and enhance physical performance outcomes. © 2018 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 36:2355-2363, 2018.

Keywords: balance; gait analysis; pain; total knee arthroplasty; weakness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Knee / surgery
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle Weakness*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiopathology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Walking / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing