Individuals with patellofemoral pain present with altered hip muscle activation, faulty movement patterns, and pain during functional tasks. Examining new treatment options to address these impairments may better treat those with patellofemoral pain. The purpose of this study was to determine if patterned electrical stimulation to the lower extremity affects muscle activity, movement patterns, and pain following a single treatment.
Fifteen females with patellofemoral pain were randomized to receive a single 15-minute treatment of either a patterned electrical neuromuscular stimulation or a sham. Peak kinematics of the knee, hip, and trunk, electromyography and pain were examined pre and post-intervention during a single leg squat and lateral step-down task. Group means and pre/post reduced kinematic values were also plotted during the entire task with 90% confidence intervals to identify differences in movement strategies.
No baseline differences were found in peak kinematics between groups. No pre to post-intervention differences in peak knee, hip and trunk kinematics were found, however differences were seen when the quality of movement across the entire tasks was assessed. The electrical stimulation group had improved knee flexion and hip abduction during the lateral step-down. A significant improvement in gluteus medius activation following patterned electrical neuromuscular stimulation occurred during the step-down (P=0.039). Significant pain improvements were also seen in both the single leg squat (P=0.025) and lateral step-down (P=0.006).
A single treatment of patterned electrical neuromuscular stimulation improved muscle activation, lower extremity kinematics during functional tasks, and pain.