total hip arthroplasty (THA) is associated with decreased pain and improved function, including increased walking speed, but it does not always improve overall joint mechanics during activities of daily living such as level walking and stair climbing. The hip's ability to generate power to move and allow for smooth and efficient forward motion is critical to success after surgery. Although osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip limits the power of the affected joint, it is not known whether other joints in the affected limb or in the contralateral limb need to produce more power to compensate. Additionally, it is not known whether alterations in the production of power before and after surgery are gender-specific.
(1) Is there a change in the power production of the bilateral ankles, knees, and hips during level walking before and after patients undergo unilateral THA, and are there important gender-specific differences in these findings? (2) How do these findings differ for stair climbing?
Three-dimensional motion and ground reaction force data were collected for 13 men and 13 women who underwent primary, unilateral THA. This was a secondary analysis of previously collected data on gait mechanics from 60 patients who underwent THA. In the initial study, patients were included if they were scheduled to undergo a primary, unilateral THA within 4 weeks of the study and were able to walk without an assistive device. Patients were recruited from the practices of four surgeons at a single institution from 2008 to 2011. Patients were included in the current study if they were enrolled in the previous study, attended all three assessment visits (preoperative and 6 weeks and 1 year postoperative), and, during the preoperative visit, were able to walk without using an assistive device and climb stairs without using a handrail. Patients walked and ascended stairs at a self-selected speed at the three assessment visits. The power of each ankle, knee, or hip was calculated in Visual 3D using kinematic and kinetic data collected using motion capture. Power for each joint was normalized to the total power of the bilateral lower limbs by dividing the individual joint power by the total lower-extremity joint power. A mixed-model repeated-measures ANOVA was used to determine differences in normalized joint power for the ankle, knee, and hip, based on gender, limb (surgical-side versus nonsurgical-side) and timepoint (preoperative and 6 weeks and 1 year postoperative).
Surgical-side absolute (preoperative: -0.2 ± 0.2 [CI, -0.3 to -0.2], 1 year postoperative: -0.5 ± 0.3 [CI, -0.6 to - 0.5]; p < 0.001) and normalized (preoperative: 0.05 ± 0.04 [CI, 0.03-0.06], 1 year postoperative: 0.08 ± 0.04 [CI, 0.06-0.09]; p = 0.020) hip power production increased during walking. Surgical-side absolute (preoperative: 1.1 ± 0.3 [CI, 1.0-1.3], 1 year postoperative: 1.6 ± 0.2 [CI, 1.3-2.0]; p = 0.005) and normalized (preoperative: 0.16 ± 0.04 [CI, 0.14-0.18], 1 year postoperative: 0.21 ± 0.06 [CI, 0.18-0.24]; p = 0.008) hip power production increased during stair climbing, while nonsurgical ankle absolute (preoperative: 0.9 ± 0.5 [CI, 0.6 - 1.2], 1 year postoperative: 0.6 ± 0.3 [CI, 0.4-0.8]; p = 0.064) and normalized (preoperative: 0.13 ± 0.06 [CI, 0.10-0.16], 1 year postoperative: 0.08 ± 0.04 [CI, 0.06-0.10]; p = 0.015) power decreased during stair climbing after THA. No consistent effect of gender was observed.
In this gait-analysis study, power was improved in hip joints that were operated on, and power production in the ipsilateral and contralateral ankles and ipsilateral hips was reduced during level walking and stair climbing. The success of surgical intervention must be based on restoring reasonable balance of forces in the lower limb. Patients with OA of the hip lose power production in this joint and must compensate for the loss by producing power in other joints, which then may become arthritic. To determine future interventions, an understanding of whether changes in forces or joint angle affect the change in joint power is needed. Based on these results, THA appeared to effectively increase hip power and reduce the need for compensatory power production in other joints for both men and women in this patient cohort.
Level of evidence
Level I, prognostic study.