Association between altered somatosensation, pain, and knee stability in patients with severe knee osteoarthrosis

Alicia J Emerson Kavchak, César Fernández-De-Las-Peñas, Leah H. Rubin, Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Samuel J. Chmell, Reuben K. Durr, Carol A. Courtney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relationship between knee pain, altered somatosensation, and self-reported instability in individuals with knee osteoarthrosis (OA) during a step-up-and-over task. Methods: Quantitative sensory testing, including mechanical detection threshold (MDT), allodynia, vibration perception threshold, and pressure pain threshold (PPT), was assessed in 16 individuals (mean age, 52±7 y) with knee OA and in 16 age-matched and sex-matched controls. Pain intensity ratings and subjective reports of instability/buckling were recorded at rest and while performing a step-up task, and these findings were correlated with somatosensory measures. Results: In the OA group, all participants reported allodynia on MDT testing. Compared with healthy controls, MDT was significantly increased (P<0.001), and vibration perception threshold was increased (P=0.02) at the medial knee, indicating hypoesthesia. PPT was significantly decreased at the medial joint line (P=0.03) and 12 cm distal (P=0.02). Comparing participants with OA having severe versus mild radiographic changes, PPT was lower at the medial joint line (P<0.01) but not at 12 cm distal. Fourteen (87.5%) participants with knee OA reported pain and instability during the step task as compared with none or 1 (6%) of the controls. On the step task, longer duration of symptoms was associated with increased pain (P=0.02). A moderate correlation between greater self-reported instability and increased vibratory hypoesthesia at the knee (r=-0.633; P=0.01) was demonstrated, suggesting a potential relationship between somatosensory changes and functional deficits. Conclusions: Severe OA may result in both hyperalgesia and hypoesthesia at the affected knee. Perceived instability during functional tasks may be mediated in part by pain in individuals with knee OA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-594
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • central sensitization
  • hypoesthesia
  • instability
  • knee osteoarthritis
  • osteoarthrosis
  • pain
  • vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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