Objective: To determine if compensatory actions take place at the pelvis and other joints of the affected lower limb in subjects who were in an early stage of hip osteoarthritis (OA). Design: Nonrandomized, case-control study. Setting: A gait laboratory. Participants: Seventeen patients with OA of the hip (clinical group) matched with 17 healthy elderly subjects (nonclinical group). Interventions: Video data obtained while subjects walked a 10-meter walkway twice and stepped across a forceplate. Main Outcome Measures: Four phasic and temporal gait parameters (walking speed, stance phase relative duration, stride length, cadence) 10 pelvic (pelvic tilt, obliquity, rotation at push-off maximum range of motion for all 3) and hip (3 hip angles at push-off, maximum hip flexion) kinematic parameters, 3 hip moments, and twenty-seven 3-dimensional peak muscle powers (labeled by joint, peak power, plane) developed in the lower limb joints during the gait cycle. Results: Subjects in the clinical group were characterized by a 12.4% slower walking speed. The pelvis was more upwardly tilted (2.5 times) at push-off in the clinical group than in the nonclinical group. Obliquity, measured in the frontal plane, revealed that the pelvis dropped more (2.4 times) on the unsupported limb of the clinical group at push-off. In the sagittal plane, subjects in the clinical group absorbed less energy in their second hip peak power for decelerating the thigh extension and generated less hip pull (third hip peak power) than the nonclinical group by 34% and 29%, respectively. In the sagittal plane, the clinical group had 57% lower second knee peak power to straighten the joint shortly after heel strike, and 43% less knee absorption (third peak power) at push-off. During the push-off phase, the clinical group developed more than twice their third peak knee power in the frontal plane and 5 times more their third peak knee power in the transversal plane than the peak knee power of the nonclinical group in an attempt to control knee adduction and to facilitate body-weight transfer by an internal rotation. At the end of the swing phase, the fourth peak power in the sagittal plane showed the absorption power required to decelerate the leg; it was reduced by 35% in the clinical group, representing a strategy to increase walking speed by lengthening the stride length. Conclusions: Even at an early stage of hip OA, joint degeneration was compensated by an increase in pelvis motion and muscle power generation or absorption modifications in other lower limb joints. © 2001 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
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