Quadricep Weakness May Be a Factor in Knee Pain

August 18, 2017 in STSMPT

Out of all types of pain, knee pain may be the most prevalent among older adults. Knee pain is a hallmark of knee osteoarthritis. Over 27 million people have osteoarthritis with the knees being the most commonly affected area. The number of people dealing with knee pain is steadily rising over time. In fact, it’s reported that the numbers have risen by as much as sixty five percent over the last twenty years. Despite the number of people who have knee pain, there is still a lot that is unknown about the causes of it. A new study published by Osteoarthritis and Cartilage suggests that weakness of the quadricep muscle may be a determining factor in knee pain severity, at least in women.

This has been a theory for a while. The quadricep muscle is a primary contributor to knee joint stability. There have been other studies on the subject but with different results. In this experiment, they studied the progression of knee pain and measured the quadricep strength in older adults with either osteoarthritis or ones who had risk factors for it. The sample size was 2,204 participants with researchers studying 4,648 knees over a period of five years. In total 1,090 knees from 838 participants had worse knee pain after sixty months.

The results showed that in women, there was an association with lower quadricep strength and higher amounts of knee pain. In men, there did not appear to be a relation. The researchers theorized that there may be a certain amount of strength necessary to protect from adverse knee loading. With men typically having more strength than women, it may be that women start closer to that pain threshold and cross over it sooner than men.

If you are experiencing nagging knee pain, don’t let it slow you down. Call us. We can customize a plan of targeted exercise, strengthening, and perhaps other treatments, to protect your knees long term.


N.A. Glass, J.C. Torner, L.A. Frey Law, K. Wang, T. Yang, M.C. Nevitt, D.T. Felson, C.E. Lewis, N.A. Segal, The relationship between quadriceps muscle weakness and worsening of knee pain in the MOST cohort: a 5-year longitudinal study, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 21, Issue 9, 2013, Pages 1154-1159, ISSN 1063-4584, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2013.05.016.

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