Objective: Quadriceps sensorimotor dysfunction may be important in the pathogenesis of knee osteoarthritis (OA) and a determinant of disability. Exercise regimes can increase quadriceps strength, but whether this improves proprioception and reduces disability is uncertain. Moreover, research regimes involve protracted treatment which is clinically impracticable.
Methods: We compared quadriceps sensorimotor function and disability in 60 patients with knee OA, before and after an exercise regime, with a control group (n = 37) who did not exercise.
Results: Exercise improved quadriceps strength (mean change, 95% CI; 73 N, 26-19 N), voluntary activation (14%, 5-20%), knee joint position sense (0.6 degrees, 0.1-1.8 degrees), and reduced the Lequesne Index (3.5, 0.5-4) and aggregate time of four activities of daily living (8.4 s, 0.2-16.7 s). At 6 month follow-up, these improvements were maintained. The parameters of the control group were unchanged.
Conclusions: These results substantiate the association between quadriceps sensorimotor dysfunction and disability, emphasizing the importance of quadriceps exercise in the management of knee OA. The regimen is relatively brief and clinically practicable, but could be adapted to make it more cost effective.