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Patellofemoral pain and quadriceps atrophy, review


Tags: patellar pain, etiology, arthritis, aging, pain problems, knee, leg, limbs, overuse injury, injury, running, exercise, self-treatment, treatment, pro

PainSci summary of Giles 2013?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This review complied data from 10 studies to find that quadriceps muscle atrophy is indeed present in people with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). This atrophy was only really visible with imaging technology (like MRIs), not by simply measuring the girth of the thigh with measuring tape.

Interestingly, there was no significant difference between the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) and the vastus lateralis (VL)! So while this supports the use of quadriceps strengthening for rehabilitation of PFPS, it does not support the special status of the VMO when treating PFPS.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic literature review.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether quadriceps atrophy is present in the affected limb of individuals with patellofemoral pain (PFP).

BACKGROUND: PFP is a common condition. Atrophy of the quadriceps femoris, in particular the vastus medialis obliquus, is often assumed to be present by clinicians, and its resolution may underpin the reported effectiveness of quadriceps strengthening intervention in PFP rehabilitation.

METHODS: A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify studies that measured the size of the quadriceps in individuals with PFP. Meta-analyses were performed to determine whether quadriceps size in limbs with PFP differed from that in comparison limbs. Separate meta-analyses were performed for quadriceps size measured as girth and quadriceps size measured with imaging (thickness, cross-sectional area, and volume).

RESULTS: Ten studies were included in this review. The meta-analysis of girth measurements (3 studies) found no atrophy in limbs with PFP (P = .638). The meta-analyses for imaging techniques (thickness, cross-sectional area, or volume measurements) showed atrophy in the limb with PFP compared to both the asymptomatic limb (3 studies) (P = .036) and limbs from a comparison group (3 studies) (P = .001). The single study that compared the vastus medialis obliquus and vastus lateralis in individuals with PFP found atrophy of both the vastus medialis obliquus and vastus lateralis but no significant difference in the amount of atrophy between them (P = .179).

CONCLUSION: Quadriceps muscle atrophy was shown to be present in PFP when analyzed by imaging, but not by girth measures. Insufficient data were available to determine if there was greater atrophy of the vastus medialis obliquus than the vastus lateralis. These findings support the rationale for use of quadriceps strengthening as part of a rehabilitation program for PFP.

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One article on cites Giles 2013 as a source:

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