Patellar maltracking correlates with vastus medialis activation delay in patellofemoral pain patients

Saikat Pal, Christine E. Draper, Michael Fredericson, Garry E. Gold, Scott L. Delp, Gary S. Beaupre, Thor F. Besier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Delayed onset of vastus medialis (VM) activity compared with vastus lateralis activity is a reported cause for patellofemoral pain. The delayed onset of VM activity in patellofemoral pain patients likely causes an imbalance in muscle forces and lateral maltracking of the patella; however, evidence relating VM activation delay to patellar maltracking is sparse. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between VM activation delay and patellar maltracking measures in pain-free controls and patellofemoral pain patients. Hypothesis: Patellar tilt and bisect offset, measures of patellar tracking, correlate with VM activation delay in patellofemoral pain patients classified as maltrackers. Study Design: Case control study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Vasti muscle activations were recorded in pain-free (n = 15) and patellofemoral pain (n = 40) participants during walking and jogging. All participants were scanned in an open-configuration magnetic resonance scanner in an upright weightbearing position to acquire the position of the patella with respect to the femur. Patellar tilt and bisect offset were measured, and patellofemoral pain participants were classified into normal tracking and maltracking groups. Results: Correlations between VM activation delay and patellar maltracking measures were statistically significant in only the patellofemoral pain participants classified as maltrackers with both abnormal tilt and abnormal bisect offset (R2 =.89, P <.001, with patellar tilt during walking; R2 =.75, P =.012, with bisect offset during jogging). There were no differences between the means of activation delays in pain-free and all patellofemoral pain participants during walking (P =.516) or jogging (P =.731). Conclusion: There was a relationship between VM activation delay and patellar maltracking in the subgroup of patellofemoral pain participants classified as maltrackers with both abnormal tilt and abnormal bisect offset. Clinical Relevance: A clinical intervention such as VM retraining may be effective in only a subset of patellofemoral pain participants-namely, those with excessive tilt and excessive bisect offset measures. The results highlight the importance of appropriate classification of patellofemoral pain patients before selection of a clinical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-598
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Keywords

  • anterior knee pain
  • lateral patellar maltracking
  • patellar maltracking
  • patellofemoral pain
  • surface electromyography
  • vastus medialis activation delay

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