‘Arthrogenous muscle weakness’ is weakness of muscles acting about an injured or inflamed joint. The weakness may be due to loss of muscle or to inability to activate the muscle (Fig. 1). Weakness of the thigh muscles, and of the quadriceps in particular, is a common and important consequence of knee trauma, surgery or arthritis. Muscle weakness contributes significantly to disability and probably also renders the joint vulnerable to further damage (Fig. 1). This review starts with a brief discussion of the contribution of atrophy to weakness. It concentrates, however, on inhibition of quadriceps activation and suggests some therapeutic implications. It does not deal with the reduced oxidative capacity and increased fatiguability of disused muscle since, although important, these have not been part of our programme of work.

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