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Sungwan Kim, Daeho Kim and Jihong Park

Context: While arthrogenous muscle inhibition associated with knee injuries is evident, the relative magnitude of functional deficiency related to each individual knee pathology is unclear. Objective: To compare the knee joint and quadriceps dysfunction among patients with anterior knee pain (AKP) without surgical history and those with surgical history (anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction [ACLR]; meniscus surgery) without current AKP, with matched healthy controls. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: A total of 66 patients with knee pathologies and 30 controls. Main Outcome Measures: Pain perception and lower-extremity functional outcomes were assessed. Knee joint function was measured by replication tests. Quadriceps function was measured by strength, voluntary activation, and torque-generating capacity. Results: Patients with AKP reported greater pain perception compared with the other knee conditions (4.3 vs 0.1 of 10 in Numeric Pain Rating Scale, P < .0001). Compared with the controls: (1) patients with AKP showed a greater error on knee-flexion replications at 75° (2.9° vs 5.4°, P = .002), (2) patients with AKP and ACLR showed less quadriceps strength (AKP: 3.3 vs 2.6 N·m/kg, P = .002; ACLR: 3.3 vs 2.7 N·m/kg, P = .02) and voluntary activation (AKP: 0.982 vs 0.928, P < .0001; ACLR: 0.982 vs 0.946, P = .003), and (3) all knee pathologies reported lower scores on functional outcomes (79 vs 65 of 80 points in Lower-Extremity Functional Scale, P < .0001) and showed less quadriceps torque-generating capacity (10.7 vs 7.8 N·m/s/kg, P < .0001). Among the knee pathologies, patients with AKP showed less quadriceps voluntary activation compared with the patients with meniscus surgery (0.928 vs 0.964, P = .03). Conclusion: As patients with AKP had an additional impairment in knee joint flexion replications and reported a less score in functional outcomes, knee pain may produce a greater impact on functional deficiency.

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Jihong Park, W. Matt Denning, Jordan D. Pitt, Devin Francom, J. Ty Hopkins and Matthew K. Seeley

Context:

Although knee pain is common, some facets of this pain are unclear. The independent effects (ie, independent from other knee injury or pathology) of knee pain on neural activation of lower-extremity muscles during landing and jumping have not been observed.

Objective:

To investigate the independent effects of knee pain on lower-extremity muscle (gastrocnemius, vastus medialis, medial hamstrings, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus) activation amplitude during landing and jumping, performed at 2 different intensities.

Design:

Laboratory-based, pretest, posttest, repeated-measures design, where all subjects performed both data-collection sessions.

Methods:

Thirteen able-bodied subjects performed 2 different land and jump tasks (forward and lateral) under 2 different conditions (control and pain), at 2 different intensities (high and low). For the pain condition, experimental knee pain was induced via a hypertonic saline injection into the right infrapatellar fat pad. Functional linear models were used to evaluate the influence of experimental knee pain on muscle-activation amplitude throughout the 2 land and jump tasks.

Results:

Experimental knee pain independently altered activation for all of the observed muscles during various parts of the 2 different land and jump tasks. These activation alterations were not consistently influenced by task intensity.

Conclusion:

Experimental knee pain alters activation amplitude of various lower-extremity muscles during landing and jumping. The nature of the alteration varies between muscles, intensities, and phases of the movement (ie, landing and jumping). Generally, experimental knee pain inhibits the gastrocnemius, medial hamstring, and gluteus medius during landing while independently increasing activation of the same muscles during jumping.

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Jihong Park, Terry L. Grindstaff, Joe M. Hart, Jay N. Hertel and Christopher D. Ingersoll

Context:

Weight-bearing (WB) and non-weight-bearing (NWB) exercises are commonly used in rehabilitation programs for patients with anterior knee pain (AKP).

Objective:

To determine the immediate effects of isolated WB or NWB knee-extension exercises on quadriceps torque output and activation in individuals with AKP.

Design:

A single-blind randomized controlled trial.

Setting:

Laboratory.

Participants:

30 subjects with self-reported AKP.

Interventions:

Subjects performed a maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of the quadriceps (knee at 90°). Maximal voluntary quadriceps activation was quantified using the central activation ratio (CAR): CAR = MVIC/(MVIC + superimposed burst torque). After baseline testing, subjects were randomized to 1 of 3 intervention groups: WB knee extension, NWB knee extension, or control. WB knee-extension exercise was performed as a sling-based exercise, and NWB knee-extension exercise was performed on the Biodex dynamometer. Exercises were performed in 3 sets of 5 repetitions at approximately 55% MVIC. Measurements were obtained at 4 times: baseline and immediately and 15 and 30 min postexercise.

Main Outcome Measures:

Quadriceps torque output (MVIC: N·m/Kg) and quadriceps activation (CAR).

Results:

No significant differences in the maximal voluntary quadriceps torque output (F 2,27 = 0.592, P = .56) or activation (F 2,27 = 0.069, P = .93) were observed among the 3 treatment groups.

Conclusions:

WB and NWB knee-extension exercises did not acutely change quadriceps torque output or activation. It may be necessary to perform exercises over a number of sessions and incorporate other disinhibitory interventions (eg, cryotherapy) to observe acute changes in quadriceps torque and activation.