Improper activation of the quadriceps muscles vastus medialis (VM) and vastus lateralis (VL) has been implicated in the development of patellofemoral pain (PFP). This explanation of PFP assumes that VM and VL produce opposing mediolateral forces on the patella. Although studies have provided evidence for opposing actions of VM and VL on the patella, other studies have suggested that their actions might be similar. In this study, we took advantage of the experimental accessibility of the rat to directly measure the forces on the patella produced by VM and VL. We found that VM and VL produce opposing mediolateral forces on the patella when the patella was lifted away from the femur. These distinct mediolateral forces were not transmitted to the tibia, however: forces measured at the distal tibia were very similar for VM and VL. Further, when the patella was placed within the trochlear groove, the forces on the patella produced by VM and VL were very similar to one another. These results suggest that mediolateral forces produced by VM and VL are balanced by reaction forces from the trochlear groove and so are not transmitted to the tibia. These results provide a rich characterization of the mechanical actions of VM and VL and have implications about the potential role of these muscles in PFP and their neural control during behavior.
- Patellofemoral pain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering