The Effect of Knee Braces on Quadriceps Strength and Inhibition in Subjects With Patellofemoral Osteoarthritis.
Callaghan MJ., Parkes MJ., Felson DT.
STUDY DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. BACKGROUND: The use of external supports has been questioned because they may lead to weakness in the surrounding muscles. To our knowledge, there is no investigation into the effect of knee supports or braces on quadriceps muscle strength and quadriceps inhibition in individuals with patellofemoral joint (PFJ) osteoarthritis (OA). OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effects of a flexible knee support on quadriceps maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) and arthrogenous muscle inhibition (AMI) in patients with PFJ OA. METHODS: The study included 108 participants who had at least 3 months of patellofemoral pain and a Kellgren-Lawrence score of 2 or 3 for PFJ OA. The participants were randomized to a group that wore a flexible knee support (brace) or a group that did not wear a support (no brace) in a 6-week randomized controlled trial, followed by an open-label trial, in which all participants wore the brace for a total of 12 weeks. Quadriceps MVC, measured isometrically, and quadriceps AMI, measured by twitch interpolation, were assessed at the 6-week and 12-week time points. RESULTS: After 6 weeks, MVC did not differ between the brace and no-brace groups (9.09 Nm; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -4.89, 23.07; P = .20). Arthrogenous muscle inhibition significantly decreased in the brace group (-8.62%; 95% CI: -13.90%, -3.33%; P = .002). After 12 weeks, in all of the participants who wore a flexible knee support, MVC increased by 7.98 Nm (95% CI: 2.52, 13.45; P = .004) and AMI decreased (-8.42%; 95% CI: -11.48%, -5.36%; P