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Joint Loading in the Sagittal Plane During Gait Is Associated With Hip Joint Abnormalities in Patients With Femoroacetabular Impingement



Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a morphological abnormality of the hip joint that results in functional impairments during various activities of daily living (ADL) such as walking. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to determine if lower extremity joint loading differed between patients with FAI and controls and to determine whether these altered biomechanical parameters were associated with intra-articular abnormalities. It was hypothesized that patients with FAI would exhibit altered lower extremity joint loading during walking when compared with healthy controls and that these altered joint loading patterns would be associated with intra-articular abnormalities.

Study design

Controlled laboratory study.


Lower extremity kinetics was assessed during walking at a self-selected speed in 15 presurgical patients with FAI and 34 healthy controls matched for age and body mass index. All participants underwent unilateral hip magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess hip joint abnormalities. Hip joint abnormalities were assessed using a semiquantitative MRI-based scoring system. Self-reported outcomes of pain and function were obtained using the Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (HOOS), and physical performance was measured using the 6-minute walk test (6MWT). Group differences were assessed using an independent t test and analysis of variance. In the patients with FAI, associations of joint kinetics with HOOS subscores and intra-articular abnormalities were assessed using the Pearson ( r) and Spearman (ρ) correlation coefficients, respectively.


Compared with the control group, the FAI group exhibited a significantly increased severity of acetabular (FAI: 1.87 ± 1.55; control: 0.47 ± 0.79; P < .001) and femoral (FAI: 3.27 ± 2.79; control: 1.21 ± 1.55; P = .002) cartilage abnormalities, increased levels of pain (FAI: 65.0 ± 18.8; control: 98.2 ± 3.4; P = .001), and reduced function (FAI: 67.2 ± 21.5; control: 98.9 ± 3.4; P < .001) but similar walking speeds (FAI: 1.55 ± 0.19 m/s; control: 1.63 ± 0.22 m/s; P = .20) and 6MWT performance (FAI: 628.0 ± 91.2 m; control: 667.2 ± 73.4 m; P = .13). The FAI group demonstrated increased hip flexion moment impulses (FAI: 0.14 ± 0.04 N·m·s/kg; control: 0.11 ± 0.03 N·m·s/kg; P = .03), peak ankle dorsiflexion moments (FAI: 1.64 ± 0.16 N·m/kg; control: 1.46 ± 0.31 N·m/kg; P = .04), and ankle dorsiflexion moment impulses (FAI: 0.39 ± 0.07 N·m·s/kg; control: 0.31 ± 0.07 N·m·s/kg; P = .01) compared with the control group. Within the FAI group, an increased hip flexion moment impulse during walking was significantly correlated with increased pain ( r = -0.60, P = .03), decreased ADL ( r = -0.57, P = .04), and increased severity of acetabular cartilage abnormalities (ρ = 0.82, P < .01).


Patients with FAI exhibited altered hip and ankle joint loading patterns during walking. These data suggest that patients with FAI demonstrate both local and distal joint alterations during walking and that hip joint loading is directly related to hip joint abnormalities.

Clinical relevance

The results of this study suggest that the hip flexion moment impulse may be an important biomechanical parameter to understand FAI, as the hip flexion moment impulse during walking was shown to be directly related to hip joint abnormalities on MRI.

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