Between-limb kinematic asymmetry during gait in unilateral and bilateral mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis

Kathryn Mills, Blayne A. Hettinga, Michael B. Pohl, Reed Ferber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To compare lower-limb kinematic asymmetries during gait in individuals with unilateral and bilateral symptomatic osteoarthritis and controls. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting Laboratory. Participants: Participants (N=54) had symptomatic unilateral (n=18) or bilateral (n=18) knee osteoarthritis. Healthy controls were sex- and age-matched and similar in height and weight to osteoarthritis groups (n=18). Intervention: Three-dimensional motion analysis was conducted while participants walked on a treadmill at 1.1m/s. Main Outcome Measures: Maximum joint angles and velocities of the knee and hip during stance, knee flexion, knee adduction, and hip adduction at initial contact, pelvic drop, stride length, and average toe out. Results: There was a significant limb effect for knee flexion at initial contact (P=.01). The bilateral osteoarthritis group demonstrated the largest between-limb asymmetry (2.83°; 95% confidence interval,.88-4.78; effect size [ES]=.67). The bilateral osteoarthritis group also displayed tendencies toward between-limb asymmetry in hip adduction at initial contact and peak knee adduction during stance; ESs were small (ES=.33 and.48). Lower-limb kinematics was symmetrical in the control and unilateral knee osteoarthritis groups. Conclusions: Between-limb asymmetries are present even at mild to moderate stages of knee osteoarthritis. During this stage, between-limb asymmetry appears to be more prevalent in patients with bilateral symptomatic disease, suggesting that patients with unilateral disease maintain kinematic symmetry for longer in the knee osteoarthritis process. Further, early treatment strategies should target the restoration of gait symmetry and involve kinematics changes in both lower limbs. Future research is needed to determine the efficacy of such strategies with respect to kinematic asymmetry, pain, and disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2241-2247
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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