Total Joint Replacement Educational Series Part 19: Can Quadriceps (thigh muscle) Strengthening Help Knee Arthritis?
Posted May 02 2009 10:34pm
Several studies have had mixed results
about the benefits of quadriceps strength on knee arthritis. Some show that weaker quadriceps are
associated with greater knee pain and impaired function while others do not
show a difference. Most of the
studies, however, focus on the main part of the knee where the femur (thigh)
and tibia (shin) bones meet the tibiofemoral joint, neglecting to include the
area of the knee where the patella (kneecap) and femur meet (patellofemoral
A new study out has looked at both areas of
the knee as well as knee arthritis symptoms. The authors studied 265 men and women for 30 months. Baseline MRIs were obtained as well assessment
of quadriceps strength, severity of knee pain, physical function and knee
The results showed that greater strength
had no influence on cartilage loss at the tibiofemoral joint, but greater
strength did protect against cartilage loss at the outer part of the patellofemoral
joint, a common site for cartilage loss. Also, those
with the greater quadriceps function had less knee pain and better physical
function. The authors of the study
believe that greater strength of the vastus medialis (part of quadriceps muscle)
helps to pulls the kneecap inward, stabilizing and preventing cartilage loss.
Furthermore, several short-term studies
have shown that greater quadriceps strength is associated with improved knee
function and less pain. The bottom
line . . . keep those muscles in shape!!