Proprioception in knee osteoarthritis: a narrative review

J. Knoop, M.P.M. Steultjens, M. van der Leeden, M. van der Esch, C.A. Thorstensson, L.D. Roorda, W.F. Lems, J. Dekker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


To give an overview of the literature on knee proprioception in knee osteoarthritis (OA) patients.

A literature search was performed and reviewed using the narrative approach.

(1) Three presumed functions of knee proprioception have been described in the literature: protection against excessive movements, stabilization during static postures, and coordination of movements. (2) Proprioceptive accuracy can be measured in different ways; correlations between these methods are low. (3) Proprioceptive accuracy in knee OA patients seems to be impaired when compared to age-matched healthy controls. Unilateral knee OA patients may have impaired proprioceptive accuracy in both knees. (4) Causes of impaired proprioceptive accuracy in knee OA remain unknown. (5) There is currently no evidence for a role of impaired proprioceptive accuracy in the onset or progression of radiographic osteoarthritis (ROA). (6) Impaired proprioceptive accuracy could be a risk factor for progression (but not for onset) of both knee pain and activity limitations in knee OA patients. (7) Exercise therapy seems to be effective in improving proprioceptive accuracy in knee OA patients.

Recent literature has shown that proprioceptive accuracy may play an important role in knee OA. However, this role needs to be further clarified. A new measurement protocol for knee proprioception needs to be developed. Systematic reviews focusing on the relationship between impaired proprioceptive accuracy, knee pain and activity limitations and on the effect of interventions (in particular exercise therapy) on proprioceptive accuracy in knee OA are required. Future studies focusing on causes of impaired proprioceptive accuracy in knee OA patients are also needed, taking into account that also the non-symptomatic knee may have proprioceptive impairments. Such future studies may also provide knowledge of mechanism underlying the impact of impaired proprioceptive accuracy on knee pain and activity limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-388
JournalOsteoarthritis and cartilage
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Activity limitations
  • Intervention
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Measurement
  • Pain
  • Proprioception

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