Osteoarthritis (OA) is prevalent after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, but mechanismsunderlying its development are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to determine if gait biomechanics and daily physical activity (PA) associate with cartilage T2 relaxation times, a marker of collagen organization and water content, 1 month after ACL injury. Twenty-seven participants (15–35 years old) without chondral lesions completed magnetic resonance imaging, three-dimensional gait analysis, and 1 week of PA accelerometry. Interlimb differences and ratios were calculated for gait biomechanics and T2 relaxation times, respectively. Multiple linear regression models adjusted for age, sex, and concomitant meniscus injury were used to determine the association between gait biomechanics and PA with T2 relaxation times, respectively. Altered knee adduction moment (KAM) impulse, less knee flexion excursion (kEXC) and higher daily step counts accounted for 35.8%–65.8% of T2 relaxation time variation in the weightbearing and posterior cartilage of the medial and lateral compartment (all p ≤.011). KAM impulse was the strongest factor for T2 relaxation times in all models (all p ≤.001). Lower KAM impulse associated with longer T2 relaxation times in the injured medial compartment (β = −.720 to −.901) and shorter T2 relaxation in the lateral compartment (β =.713 to.956). At 1 month after ACL injury, altered KAM impulse, less kEXC, and higher PA associated with longer T2 relaxation times, which may indicate poorer cartilage health. Statement of Clinical Significance: Gait biomechanics and daily PA are modifiable targets that may improve cartilage health acutely after ACL injury and slow progression to OA.
- anterior cruciate ligament
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine