Osteoarthritis post ACL reconstruction – Who is at risk?

Our previous blog noted the patellofemoral joint (PFJ) could be a major source of anterior knee pain following ACL reconstruction (ACLR), given the high prevalence of PFJ and tibiofemoral joint (TFJ) joint changes as early at 12 months (Culvenor et al., 2015)

This month we are reviewing who may be at risk of early joint changes (PFJ/TFJ).

What factors may predict future OA post ACLR?

There is limited evidence on modifiable risk factors such as strength and function and their predictive relationship with future joint health/OA:

Some cross sectional studies suggest an association of OA with altered biomechanics (at a particular time point post ACLR): 

– Altered gait biomechanics (< KF in stance, increased tibial ER, compared to heahqdefaultlthy) associated with greater amounts of OA (Culvenor et al., 2014, Hart et al., 2015)

– Altered landing biomechanics (<KF compared to healthy) associated with greater amounts of PFJ OA.

However, more prospective studies are required to determine whether these alterations existed prior to injury, or are consequences of the injury/surgery/ongoing neuromuscular deficits.

Will they be symptomatic?

 Take home messages:

E.g. Targeted movement retraining to improve sagittal plane kinematics in gait and landing tasks.

E.g. Full restoration (>95%) of strength and functional testing, (? >100% if dominant leg)

What to say to patients regarding outcomes, OA, and ongoing management…. Next Month 5716773


  1. Hi there, I’ve been reading a couple of your posts as I’m due to have an ACL reconstruction as well as my lateral and medial meniscus repaired. I am now concerned with developing OA after the op as I’m only 20 years old and in my final year of my sports science degree and hoping to go on to complete a masters in S&C therefore need all the mobility of all my joints ha! could you share you view on vital points for rehabilitation after a ACLR? as well as some advice on things to do straight after the op to maximise to chance of reaching full fitness ASAP. Thanks

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