Not meeting functional performance criteria increases reinjury risk after ACL reconstruction (ACLR), but the implications for osteoarthritis are not well known.
To determine if poor functional performance post-ACLR is associated with risk of worsening early osteoarthritis features, knee symptoms, function and quality of life (QoL).
Seventy-eight participants (48 men) aged 28±15 years completed a functional performance test battery (three hop tests, one-leg-rise) 1 year post-ACLR. Poor functional performance was defined as <90% limb symmetry index (LSI) on each test. At 1 and 5 years, MRI, Knee injury Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) and International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective form were completed. Primary outcomes were: (i) worsening patellofemoral and tibiofemoral MRI-osteoarthritis features (cartilage, bone marrow lesions (BMLs) and meniscus) and (ii) change in KOOS and IKDC scores, between 1 and 5 years.
Only 14 (18%) passed (≥90% LSI on all tests) the functional test battery. Poor functional performance on the battery (all four tests <90% LSI) 1 year post-ACLR was associated with 3.66 times (95% CI 1.12 to 12.01) greater risk of worsening patellofemoral BMLs. A triple-crossover hop <90% LSI was associated with 2.09 (95% CI 1.15 to 3.81) times greater risk of worsening patellofemoral cartilage. There was generally no association between functional performance and tibiofemoral MRI-osteoarthritis features, or KOOS/IKDC scores.
Only one in five participants met common functional performance criteria (≥90% LSI all four tests) 1 year post-ACLR. Poor function on all four tests was associated with a 3.66 times increased risk of worsening patellofemoral BMLs, and generally not associated with decline in self-reported outcomes.

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