Hip muscle strength and protection against structural worsening and poor function and disability outcomes in knee osteoarthritis

Originally published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in 2019, this study demonstrates that having and maintaining hip abduction strength helps maintain function and decrease symptoms.



Examine associations of hip abductor strength with (1) cartilage damage worsening in the tibiofemoral and patellofemoral compartments 2 years later, and (2) poor function and disability outcomes 5 years later.


Participants had knee osteoarthritis (K/L ≥ 2) in at least one knee. Hip abductor strength was measured using Biodex Dynamometry. Participants underwent 3.0T MRI of both knees at baseline and 2 years later. Baseline-to-2-year cartilage damage progression, defined as any worsening of WORMS cartilage damage score, was assessed at each tibiofemoral and patellofemoral surface. LLFDI (Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument) and Chair-Stand-Rate were recorded at baseline and 5-year follow-up; outcomes analyzed using quintiles. Poor outcomes were defined as remaining in the same low-function quintiles or being in a worse quintile at 5-year follow-up. We analyzed associations of baseline hip abductor strength with cartilage damage worsening and function and disability outcomes using multivariable log-binomial models.


275 knees from 164 persons [age = 63.7 (SD = 9.8) years, 79.3% women] comprised the structural outcome sample, and 187 persons [age = 64.2 (9.7), 78.6% women] the function and disability outcomes sample. Greater baseline hip abductor strength was associated with reduced risks of baseline-to-2-year medial patellofemoral and lateral tibiofemoral cartilage damage worsening [adjusted relative risks (RRs) range: 0.80-0.83) and with reduced risks of baseline-to-5-year poor outcomes for Chair-Stand-Rate and LLFDI Basic Lower-Extremity Function and Disability Limitation (adjusted RRs range: 0.91-0.94).


Findings support a beneficial role of hip abductor strength for disease modification and for function and disability outcomes, and as a potential therapeutic target in managing knee osteoarthritis.

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