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It has been suggested that knee height is a determinant of knee joint load. Nonetheless, no study has directly examined the relationship between anthropometric measures of height and knee joint structures, such as cartilage.
89 asymptomatic community-based adults aged 25-62 with no diagnosed history of knee arthropathy were recruited. Anthropometric data (knee height and body height) were obtained by standard protocol, while tibial cartilage volume and defects, as well as bone area were determined from magnetic resonance imaging. Static knee alignment was measured from the joint radiograph.
All anthropometric height measures were associated with increasing compartmental tibial bone area (p ≤ 0.05). Although knee height was associated with tibial cartilage volume (e.g. β = 27 mm3 95% CI 7- 48; p = 0.009 for the medial compartment), these relationship no longer remained significant when knee height as a percentage of body height was analysed. Knee height as a percentage of body height was associated with a reduced risk of medial tibial cartilage defects (odds ratio 0.6; 95% confidence interval 0.4 - 1.0; p = 0.05).
The association between increased anthropometric height measures and increased tibial bone area may reflect inherently larger bony structures. However the beneficial associations demonstrated with cartilage morphology suggest that an increased knee height may confer a beneficial biomechanical environment to the chondrocyte of asymptomatic adults.