Seventeen postoperative total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients were evaluated using two tests of knee joint position sense. Young controls and age‐matched controls underwent identical tests. The TKA patients also underwent gait analysis, including foot switch stride analysis, and clinical evaluation using a standard scoring system. Results showed statistically significant decreases in joint position sense from young controls to old controls, and further significant decreases with joint disease; however, no further worsening was noted as a result of TKA. The abnormal gait parameters seen in TKA patients correlated as well with position sense as with clinical score. Strongest correlations were seen when a combined clinical and proprioceptive score was compared with gait parameters. In spite of alleviation of pain and correction of deformity, normal gait and function are not typically achieved after total knee replacement. Irreversible loss of joint proprioceptive function due to the disease process may be a major factor in the discrepancy between clinical and functional outcomes of total joint arthroplasty. Furthermore, loss of proprioception and the resulting abnormal gait patterns may place increased stress on components and contribute to loosening. In addition, an association between degenerative joint disease and decline in proprioception is suggested.
- Total knee arthroplasty