Context:

Early identification of knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) could enable timely interventions to improve long-term outcomes. However, little is known about the change in early OA symptoms from 6 to 12 months following ACLR.

Objective:

To evaluate the change over time in meeting classification criteria for early knee OA symptoms from 6 to 12 months following ACLR.

Design:

Prospective Cohort Study

Setting:

Research laboratory

Patients or Other Participants:

82 participants aged 13-35 years who underwent unilateral primary ACLR. On average, participants’ 1st and 2nd visits were 6.2 and 12.1 months post-ACLR.

Main Outcome Measures:

Early OA symptoms were classified using generic (Luyten Original) and patient population-specific (Luyten PASS) thresholds on Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) subscales. Changes in meeting early OA criteria were compared between an initial and follow-up visit at an average of 6 and 12 months post-ACLR, respectively.

Results:

Twenty-two percent of participants exhibited persistent early OA symptoms across both visits using both the Luyten Original and PASS criteria. From initial to follow-up visit, 18-27% had resolution of early OA symptoms while 4-9% developed incident symptoms. In total, 48-51% had no early OA symptoms at either visit. There were no differences between change in early OA status between adults and adolescents.

Conclusions:

Nearly one quarter of participants exhibited persistent early knee OA symptoms based on KOOS thresholds from 6 to 12 months post-ACLR. Determining if this symptom persistence predicts worse long-term outcomes could inform the need for timely interventions after ACLR. Future research should examine if resolving persistent symptoms in this critical window improves later outcomes. Tracking early OA symptoms over time may identify high-risk patients who could benefit from early treatment.

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