Researchers from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, the University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom, and Boston University, Massachusetts, have found that the use of a patellofemoral knee brace lessens the effects of knee osteoarthritis (OA) pain symptoms and bone marrow lesions (BMLs). The results of their research findings were presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.
Knee OA is characterized by progressive cartilage breakdown in the knee joint, and because patellofemoral knee braces have been shown to increase contact area in the joint to decrease focal stress, and possibly correct joint malalignment, the goal of the study was to measure the effects of a brace on knee pain and BMLs.
One hundred twenty-six patients with OA between the ages of 40 and 70 participated in the study. The participants had a Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grade two or three, and an average pain score of 64.6. Ninety patients who had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at the beginning of the study showed patellofemoral bone marrow lesions, which are caused in part by focal stress on the patellofemoral joint.
Participants, who were randomly assigned to the bracing group, wore the patellar tracking Bio Skin® Q Brace, Össur, Reykjavik, Iceland, for an average of 7.3 hours a day over a six-week period. Those in the control group wore no brace. The patients who wore the knee brace reported significant reduction in patellofemoral joint pain in questionnaires, and MRIs showed a decrease in the volume of BMLs in their patellofemoral joint. However, the brace did not improve BMLs in the tibiofemoral joint, according to the researchers. They suggest that further trials of OA treatments could use BMLs as a way to measure outcomes and efficacy.