Effect of Vastus Medialis Loss on Rabbit Patellofemoral Joint Contact Pressure Distribution

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 University of Calgary
  • 2 Federal University of Santa Catarina
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Vastus medialis (VM) weakness is thought to alter patellar tracking, thereby changing the loading of the patellofemoral joint (PFJ), resulting in patellofemoral pain. However, it is challenging to measure VM force and weakness in human studies, nor is it possible to measure the associated mechanical changes in the PFJ. To obtain fundamental insight into VM weakness and its effects on PFJ mechanics, the authors determined PFJ loading in the presence of experimentally simulated VM weakness. Skeletally mature New Zealand White rabbits were used (n = 6), and the vastus lateralis, VM, and rectus femoris were stimulated individually through 3 custom-built nerve cuff electrodes. Muscle torque and PFJ pressure distribution were measured while activating all muscles simultaneously, or when the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris were activated, while VM was not, to simulate a quadriceps muscle strength imbalance. For a given muscular joint torque, peak pressures were greater and joint contact areas were smaller when simulating VM weakness compared with the condition where all muscles were activated simultaneously. The results in the rabbit model support that VM weakness results in altered PFJ loading, which may cause patellofemoral pain, often associated with a strength imbalance of the knee extensor muscle group.

Han, Sawatsky, Jinha, and Herzog are with the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Herzog is also with the Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Sports, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Han (seongwon.han@ucalgary.ca) is corresponding author.
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