Journal of Biomechanics vol:46 issue:13 pages:2186-93
The weakness of hip abductor muscles is related to lower-limb joint osteoarthritis, and joint overloading may increase the risk for disease progression. The relationship between muscle strength, structural joint deterioration and joint loading makes the latter an important parameter in the study of onset and follow-up of the disease. Since the relationship between hip abductor weakness and joint loading still remains an open question, the purpose of this study was to adopt a probabilistic modeling approach to give insights into how the weakness of hip abductor muscles, in the extent to which normal gait could be unaltered, affects ipsilateral joint contact forces. A generic musculoskeletal model was scaled to each healthy subject included in the study, and the maximum force-generating capacity of each hip abductor muscle in the model was perturbed to evaluate how all physiologically possible configurations of hip abductor weakness affected the joint contact forces during walking. In general, the muscular system was able to compensate for abductor weakness. The reduced force-generating capacity of the abductor muscles affected joint contact forces to a mild extent, with 50th percentile mean differences up to 0.5BW (maximum 1.7BW). There were greater increases in the peak knee joint loads than in loads at the hip or ankle. Gluteus medius, particularly the anterior compartment, was the abductor muscle with the most influence on hip and knee loads. Further studies should assess if these increases in joint loading may affect initiation and progression of osteoarthritis.