Deficits in neuromuscular control are common after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and may be associated with further knee injury. The knee valgus angle during a single-leg squat (SLS) is one measure of neuromuscular performance.
To determine whether the knee valgus angle during SLS changes between 6 and 12 months after ACL reconstruction and to assess how the operative knee valgus angle compares with that of the contralateral side.
Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
A cohort of 100 patients with uninjured contralateral knees were assessed at 6 and 12 months after primary hamstring autograft ACL reconstruction. Participants performed the SLS on each leg, and the knee valgus angle was measured via frame-by-frame video analysis at 30° of flexion and at each patient’s maximum knee flexion angle.
For the operative limb at 30° of flexion, a small but statistically significant reduction was noted in the valgus angle between 6 and 12 months (5.46° vs 4.44°; P = .002; effect size = 0.24). At 6 months, a slightly higher valgus angle was seen in the operative limb compared with the nonoperative limb (5.46° vs 4.29°; P = .008; effect size = 0.27). At maximum flexion, no difference was seen between limbs in the valgus angle at either 6 or 12 months, and no change was seen in the operative limb between 6 and 12 months. At 6 months and 30° of knee flexion, 13 patients had a valgus angle greater than 10°. This group also had a higher mean valgus angle in the contralateral limb compared with the contralateral limb in the other 87 patients (8.5° vs 3.65°; P < .001).
During a controlled SLS, the knee valgus angle remained essentially constant, and minimal limb asymmetries were present over the 6- to 12-month postoperative period, a time when athletes typically increase their activity levels. Whether changes or asymmetries will be seen with more dynamically challenging tasks remains to be determined. When present, high valgus angles were commonly bilateral.