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      Assessments of early patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis features after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a cross-sectional study


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          Persistent anterior knee pain and subsequent patellofemoral joint (PFJ) osteoarthritis (OA) are common symptoms after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). Quadriceps weakness and atrophy is also common after ACLR. This can be contributed by arthrogenic muscle inhibition and disuse, caused by joint swelling, pain, and inflammation after surgery. With quadriceps atrophy and weakness are associated with PFJ pain, this can cause further disuse exacerbating muscle atrophy. Herein, this study aims to identify early changes in musculoskeletal, functional and quality of health parameters for knee OA after 5 years of ACLR.


          Patients treated with arthroscopically assisted single-bundle ACLR using hamstrings graft for more than 5 years were identified and recruited from our clinic registry. Those with persistent anterior knee pain were invited back for our follow-up study. For all participants, basic clinical demography and standard knee X-ray were taken. Likewise, clinical history, symptomatology, and physical examination were performed to confirm isolated PFJ pain. Outcome measures including leg quadriceps quality using ultrasound, functional performance using pressure mat and pain using self-reported questionnaires (KOOS, Kujala and IKDC) were assessed. Interobserver reproducibility was assessed by two reviewers.


          A total of 19 patients with unilateral injury who had undergone ACLR 5-years ago with persistent anterior knee pain participated in this present study. Toward the muscle quality, thinner vastus medialis and more stiffness in vastus lateralis were found in post-ACLR knees (p < 0.05). Functionally, patients with more anterior knee pain tended to shift more of their body weight towards the non-injured limb with increasing knee flexion. In accordance, rectus femoris muscle stiffness in the ACLR knee was significantly correlated with pain (p < 0.05).


          In this study, it was found that patients having higher degree of anterior knee pain were associated with higher vastus medialis muscle stiffness and thinner vastus lateralis muscle thickness. Similarly, patients with more anterior knee pain tended to shift more of their body weight towards the non-injured limb leading to an abnormal PFJ loading. Taken together, this current study helped to indicate that persistent quadriceps muscle weakness is potential contributing factor to the early development of PFJ pain.

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          Most cited references38

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          Incidence of Second ACL Injuries 2 Years After Primary ACL Reconstruction and Return to Sport.

          The incidence of second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in the first 12 months after ACL reconstruction (ACLR) and return to sport (RTS) in a young, active population has been reported to be 15 times greater than that in a previously uninjured cohort. There are no reported estimates of whether this high relative rate of injury continues beyond the first year after RTS and ACLR.
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            Fifty-five per cent return to competitive sport following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis including aspects of physical functioning and contextual factors.

            The aim of this study was to update our original systematic review of return to sport rates following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery.
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              Incidence of anterior cruciate ligament injury and other knee ligament injuries: a national population-based study.

              There has been an intensive research effort directed at determining the cause of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury over the past decade, but few studies have reported data on the incidence of ACL and other knee ligament injury in the general population. New Zealand's no-fault injury compensation data provides a national injury resource of data on claims for knee ligament injury. The goal of this paper was to provide a descriptive epidemiology of knee ligament injury in this country. Data were obtained for knee ligament injuries between 1 July 2000 and 30 June 2005. Injuries were categorised as non-surgical (NS), ACL surgeries (ACLS) and other knee ligament surgeries (OKLS). Incidence rates per 100,000 person-years were computed using population estimates. Costs and number of treatment/rehabilitation visits were obtained as an indication of severity. The incidence rate per 100,000 person-years was 1147.1 for NS, 36.9 for ACLS and 9.1 for OKLS. Males had a higher incidence rate than females for NS, ACLS, and OKLS. The mean (and median) number of treatment visits were NS: 6.6 (4), ACLS: 27.1 (24), and OKLS: 31.3 (24). The mean (median) treatment costs of these injuries were NS $885 ($129), ACLS $11,157 ($8574), and OKLS $15,663 ($8054). Analysis of injury descriptions for ACLS injuries indicated that 58% involved a non-contact mechanism of injury. These data underscore the high level of short-term disability associated with knee ligament injuries, especially ACL injuries that require surgery.

                Author and article information

                BMC Musculoskelet Disord
                BMC Musculoskelet Disord
                BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
                BioMed Central (London )
                22 June 2023
                22 June 2023
                : 24
                : 510
                [1 ]GRID grid.10784.3a, ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0482, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Faculty of Medicine, , the Chinese University of Hong Kong, ; 74029 Hong Kong SAR, China
                [2 ]GRID grid.415197.f, ISNI 0000 0004 1764 7206, Lui Che Woo Clinical Science Building, , Prince of Wales Hospital, ; Shatin, Hong Kong SAR China
                [3 ]GRID grid.415197.f, ISNI 0000 0004 1764 7206, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, , Prince of Wales Hospital, ; Hong Kong SAR, China
                © The Author(s) 2023

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                : 14 March 2023
                : 15 June 2023
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                © BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2023

                patellofemoral joint,osteoarthritis,anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction,quadriceps,pain


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