Osteoarthritis year in review 2014: mechanics—basic and clinical studies in osteoarthritis

R F Moyer, A Ratneswaran, F Beier, T B Birmingham
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2014, 22 (12): 1989-2002
The purpose of this review was to highlight recent research in mechanics and osteoarthritis (OA) by summarizing results from selected studies spanning basic and clinical research methods. Databases were searched from January 2013 through to March 2014. Working in pairs, reviewers selected 67 studies categorized into four themes--mechanobiology, ambulatory mechanics, biomechanical interventions and mechanical risk factors. Novel developments in mechanobiology included the identification of cell signaling pathways that mediated cellular responses to loading of articular cartilage. Studies in ambulatory mechanics included an increased focus on instrumented knee implants and progress in computational models, both emphasizing the importance of muscular contributions to load. Several proposed biomechanical interventions (e.g., shoe insoles and knee braces) produced variable changes in external knee joint moments during walking, while meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials did not support the use of lateral wedge insoles for decreasing pain. Results from high quality randomized trials suggested diet with or without exercise decreased indicators of knee joint load during walking, whereas similar effects from exercise alone were not detected with the measures used. Data from longitudinal cohorts suggested mechanical alignment was a risk factor for incidence and progression of OA, with the mechanism involving damage to the meniscus. In combination, the basic and clinical studies highlight the importance of considering multiple contributors to joint loading that can evoke both protective and damaging responses. Although challenges clearly exist, future studies should strive to integrate basic and clinical research methods to gain a greater understanding of the interactions among mechanical factors in OA and to develop improved preventive and therapeutic strategies.

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