Static trunk flexion working postures and disturbed trunk muscle reflexes are related to increased risk of low-back pain. Animal studies conclude that these factors may be related; passive tissue strain in spinal ligaments causes subsequent short-term changes in reflex. Although studies have documented changes in the myoelectric onset angle of flexion-relaxation following prolonged static flexion and cyclic flexion we could find no published evidence related to the human reflex response of the trunk extensor muscles following a period of static flexion-relaxation loading.
Eighteen subjects maintained static lumbar flexion for 15 min. Paraspinal muscle reflexes were elicited both before and after the flexion-relaxation protocol using pseudorandom stochastic force disturbances while recording EMG. Reflex gain was computed from the peak value of the impulse response function relating input force perturbation to EMG response using time-domain deconvolution analyses.
Reflexes showed a trend toward increased gain after the period of flexion-relaxation (P < 0.055) and were increased with trunk extension exertion (P < 0.021). Significant gender differences in reflex gain were observed (P < 0.01).
Occupational activities requiring extended periods of trunk flexion contribute to changes in reflex behavior of the paraspinal muscles. Results suggest potential mechanisms by which flexed posture work may contribute to low-back pain. Significant gender differences indicate risk analyses should consider personal factors when considering neuromuscular behavior.
Low-back; Reflex; Flexion-relaxation
The purpose of this study is to provide a controlled trial looking at the risk of paraspinal hematoma formation following extensive paraspinal muscle electromyography.
54 subjects ages 55-80 underwent MRI of the lumbar spine before or shortly after electromyography using the paraspinal mapping technique. A neuroradiologist, blinded to the temporal relationship between the EMG and MRI, reviewed the MRIs to look for hematomas in or around the paraspinal muscles.
Two MRIs demonstrated definite paraspinal hematomas, while 10 were found to have possible hematomas. All hematomas were < 15 mm, and none were close to any neural structures. There was no relationship between MRI evidence of hematoma and either the timing of the EMG or the use of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Paraspinal electromyography can be considered safe in the general population and those taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Electromyography; Paraspinal muscles; Hematoma; Paraspinal mapping; Complications
The anatomic proof of a spinal compartment and the clinical symptoms of compartment syndrome in patients with chronic back pain are inconsistent with the rarely met measuring criteria of intramuscular pressure (IMP). Previous studies assume a dependence of the IMP on spinal alignment (degree of lumbar spine flexion) and the degree of muscle activation. The significance of these disturbance variables in the interpretation of IMP could explain the above discrepancy. This study therefore investigates the influence of both a 30% increase in trunk flexion and alterations in muscle contraction from 100% to 60%. Sixteen healthy subjects participated in the study. The IMP and mean rectified amplitude of the multifidus surface EMG signal were determined at rest and 0° and approximately 30° of lumbar spine flexion, and they were compared. Subsequently, both parameters were measured during both 100% and 60% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of the muscle and then correlated. During rest and 0° flexion, the median IMP was 9.3 mmHg (range 0.0–22.5) while the median mean rectified amplitude (MRA) of the EMG signal was 1.98 µV (range 1.32–7.38). In 30° flexion, the median IMP went up to 24.3 mmHg (range 1.4–97.3) with hardly any increase in the median MRA of 2.32 µV (range 1.20–9.72). Under 60% MVC, the median IMP rose to 186.6 mmHg (range 15.4–375.4) and the median MRA to 21.02 µV (range 4.63–43.63). During 100% MVC, the median MRA increased to 34.38 µV (range 12.99–102.54) while the median IMP rose to 273.4 mmHg (range 90.4–395.1). Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient for the IMP and MRA quotients of the 100/60% MVC values was r=−0.21. To sum up, it can be said that IMP was subject to great interindividual variation in all the experiments. This parameter is highly dependent on spinal alignment and muscular activity. Further studies are needed so that the IMP can be interpreted properly when diagnosing a chronic compartment of the erector spinae muscles.
Chronic compartment syndrome; Intramuscular pressure; Low back pain; Multifidus; Surface electromyography
The nature and organisation of anticipatory postural adjustments (APA) associated with the early phase of a voluntary upper limb movement were studied. Upper limb elevations, performed at maximal velocity, were studied according to three conditions: bilateral flexions (BF) and unilateral flexions without and with an additional inertia (respectively OUF and IUF). Activities of the anterior part of the deltoid (DA) and of main muscles of the lower limbs, pelvis, trunk and scapular girdle were recorded by surface electromyography. Miniature-accelerometers enabled the recording of the tangential acceleration of the arm at wrist level (Aw) and the antero-posterior accelerations of various body links. Systematic investigations allow a precise description of the segmental phenomena which precede the onset of the voluntary movement. Before the activation of the anterior deltoid, a sequence of EMG modifications occurred in muscles of lower limbs, pelvis and trunk. The onset of Aw was preceded by anticipatory local accelerations of all the body links. Anticipatory EMG activities and local accelerations were organised according to patterns which were specific to the forthcoming voluntary movement. By comparing anticipatory EMG activities with anticipatory local accelerations, the nature of anticipatory postural movements can be determined. They appear to counteract the disturbing effects of the forthcoming voluntary movement. Because of their reproducibility and specificity, the anticipatory postural movements can be considered as preprogrammed. Postural adjustments and voluntary movement appear to be parts of the same motor program. Anticipatory postural movements should result from muscular functional synergies selected from a pre-evaluation of the perturbative aspects of the forthcoming movement.
Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most frequent musculoskeletal conditions in industrialized countries and its economic impact is important. Spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) is believed to be a valid approach in the treatment of both acute and chronic LBP. It has also been shown that SMT can modulate the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the paraspinal muscle. The purpose of this study was to investigate, in a group of patients with low back pain, the persistence of changes observed in trunk neuromuscular responses after a spinal manipulation (SMT).
Sixty adult participants with LBP performed a block of 5 flexion-extension movements. Participants in the experimental group (n=30) received lumbar SMT whereas participants in the control group (n=30) were positioned similarly for the treatment but did not receive SMT. Blocks of flexion-extension movements were repeated immediately after the manipulation as well as 5 and 30 minutes after SMT (or control position). EMG activity of paraspinal muscles was recorded at L2 and L5 level and kinematic data were collected to evaluate the lumbo-pelvic kinematics. Pain intensity was noted after each block. Normalized EMG, pain intensity and lumbo-pelvic kinematics were compared across experimental conditions.
Participants from the control group showed a significant increase in EMG activity during the last block (30 min) of flexion-extension trials in both flexion and full-flexion phases at L2. Increase in VAS scores was also observed in the last 2 blocks (5 min and 30 min) in the control group. No significant group x time interaction was seen at L5. No significant difference was observed in the lumbo-pelvic kinematics.
Changes in trunk neuromuscular control following HVLA spinal manipulation may reduce sensitization or muscle fatigue effects related to repetitive movement. Future studies should investigate short term changes in neuromuscular components, tissue properties and clinical outcomes.
Spinal manipulation; Electromyography; Kinematics; Flexion-relaxation phenomenon
To investigate the prognostic value of cross-sectional areas (CSA) of paraspinal (multifidus and erector spinae) and psoas muscles on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in chronicity of low back pain.
Thirty-eight subjects who visited our hospital for acute low back pain were enrolled. Review of their medical records and telephone interviews were done. Subjects were divided into two groups; chronic back pain group (CBP) and a group showing improvement within 6 months after onset of pain (IBP). The CSA of paraspinal and psoas muscles were obtained at the level of the lower margin of L3 and L5 vertebrae using MRI.
CSA of erector spinae muscle and the proportion of the area to lumbar muscles (paraspinal and psoas muscles) at L5 level in the CBP group were significantly smaller than that of the IBP group (p<0.05). The mean value of CSA of multifidus muscle at L5 level in the CBP group was smaller than that of the IBP group, but was not statistically significant (p>0.05). CSA of psoas muscle at L5 level and all values measured at L3 level were not significantly different between the groups (p>0.05).
CSA of erector spinae muscle at the lower lumbar level and the proportion of the area to the lumbar muscles at the L5 level can be considered to be prognostic factors of chronicity of low back pain.
Low back pain; Magnetic resonance imaging; Cross-sectional area; Muscles
Repeated measures experimental study of the effect of flexion-relaxation, recovery, and gender on paraspinal reflex dynamics.
To determine the effect of prolonged flexion-relaxation and recovery time on reflex behavior in human subjects.
Summary of Background Data.
Prolonged spinal flexion has been shown to disturb the paraspinal reflex activity in both animals and human beings. Laxity in passive tissues of the spine from flexion strain may contribute to desensitization of mechanoreceptors. Animal studies indicate that recovery of reflexes may take up to several hours. Little is known about human paraspinal reflex behavior following flexion tasks or the recovery of reflex behavior following the flexion tasks.
A total of 25 subjects performed static flexionrelaxation tasks. Paraspinal muscle reflexes were recorded before and immediately after flexion-relaxation and after a recovery period. Reflexes were quantified from systems identification analyses of electromyographic response in relation to pseudorandom force disturbances applied to the trunk.
Trunk angle measured during flexion-relaxation postures was significantly higher following static flexion-relaxation tasks (P < 0.001), indicating creep deformation of passive supporting structures in the trunk. Reflex response was diminished following flexion-relaxation (P < 0.029) and failed to recover to baseline levels during 16 minutes of recovery.
Reduced reflex may indicate that the spine is less stable following prolonged flexion-relaxation and, therefore, susceptible to injury. The absence of recovery in reflex after a substantial time indicates that increased low back pain risk from flexion-relaxation may persist after the end of the flexion task.
flexion-relaxation; reflex; low back; spine; electromyogram; stability
Myofascial tissues generate integrated webs and networks of passive and active tensional forces that provide stabilizing support and that control movement in the body. Passive [central nervous system (CNS)–independent] resting myofascial tension is present in the body and provides a low-level stabilizing component to help maintain balanced postures. This property was recently called “human resting myofascial tone” (HRMT). The HRMT model evolved from electromyography (EMG) research in the 1950s that showed lumbar muscles usually to be EMG-silent in relaxed gravity-neutral upright postures.
Biomechanical, clinical, and physiological studies were reviewed to interpret the passive stiffness properties of HRMT that help to stabilize various relaxed functions such as quiet balanced standing. Biomechanical analyses and experimental studies of the lumbar multifidus were reviewed to interpret its passive stiffness properties. The lumbar multifidus was illustrated as the major core stabilizing muscle of the spine, serving an important passive biomechanical role in the body.
Research into muscle physiology suggests that passive resting tension (CNS-independent) is generated in sarcomeres by the molecular elasticity of low-level cycling cross-bridges between the actomyosin filaments. In turn, tension is complexly transmitted to intimately enveloping fascial matrix fibrils and other molecular elements in connective tissue, which, collectively, constitute the myofascial unit. Postural myofascial tonus varies with age and sex. Also, individuals in the population are proposed to vary in a polymorphism of postural HRMT. A few people are expected to have outlier degrees of innate postural hypotonicity or hypertonicity. Such biomechanical variations likely predispose to greater risk of related musculoskeletal disorders, a situation that deserves greater attention in clinical practice and research. Axial myofascial hypertonicity was hypothesized to predispose to ankylosing spondylitis. This often-progressive deforming condition of vertebrae and sacroiliac joints is characterized by stiffness features and particular localization of bony lesions at entheseal sites. Such unique features imply concentrations and transmissions of excessive force, leading to tissue micro-injury and maladaptive repair reactions.
The HRMT model is now expanded and translated for clinical relevance to therapists. Its passive role in helping to maintain balanced postures is supported by biomechanical principles of myofascial elasticity, tension, stress, stiffness, and tensegrity. Further research is needed to determine the molecular basis of HRMT in sarcomeres, the transmission of tension by the enveloping fascial elements, and the means by which the myofascia helps to maintain efficient passive postural balance in the body. Significant deficiencies or excesses of postural HRMT may predispose to symptomatic or pathologic musculoskeletal disorders whose mechanisms are currently unexplained.
Resting muscle; tone; tension; stiffness; passive; elasticity; fascia; myofascia; cross bridge theory; sarcomere
Background: The aetiology of osteoporotic vertebral fracture is multifactorial and may be conceptualised using a systems framework. Previous studies have established several correlates of vertebral fracture including reduced vertebral cross-sectional area, weakness in back extensor muscles, reduced bone mineral density, increasing age, worsening kyphosis and recent vertebral fracture. Alterations in these physical characteristics may influence biomechanical loads and neuromuscular control of the trunk and contribute to changes in subregional bone mineral density of the vertebral bodies.
Methods: This review discusses factors that have received less attention in the literature, which may contribute to the development of vertebral fracture. A literature review was conducted using electronic databases including Medline, Cinahl and ISI Web of Science to examine the potential contribution of trabecular architecture, subregional bone mineral density, vertebral geometry, muscle force, muscle strength, neuromuscular control and intervertebral disc integrity to the aetiology of osteoporotic vertebral fracture.
Interpretation: A better understanding of factors such as biomechanical loading and neuromuscular control of the trunk may help to explain the high incidence of subsequent vertebral fracture after sustaining an initial vertebral fracture. Consideration of these issues may be important in the development of prevention and management strategies.
osteoporosis; vertebral fracture; bone density; spinal biomechanics; neuromuscular control
A single group prospective study. Disc prostheses are believed to contribute to the restoration of the segmental movement and the preservation of the adjacent segments. The study’s main objective was to determine if changes in neuromuscular patterns assessed using the flexion-relaxation phenomenon (FRP) can be observed following disc replacement surgery.
Fifteen subjects participated in this study; they were evaluated before and after lumbar disc replacement surgery. Both assessments included ten repetitions of a trunk flexion and extension movement (with and without a load), where the surface electromyography (EMG) and kinematic data were recorded.
Following the disc replacement procedure (17.3 weeks ± 8.4), participants reported a significant reduction in their ODI and FABQ - physical activity scores. Increases in pelvic flexion as well as in erector spinae (ES) muscle activity at L5 in the flexion phase were observed. Following the disc replacement surgery, ES activity at L2 decreased during the quiet standing position.
The results of this study suggest that although improvements in disability scores and fear-avoidance related to physical activities scores were noted after a disc replacement surgery, the lumbar ROM was not modified. Nevertheless, a significant increase in the hip ROM during the flexion-extension task as well as an increase in ES muscle activity in flexion was observed following surgery. The VAS, FABQ I and ODQ scores were positively correlated with change in the muscular activities during the FRP.
Low back pain; Disc prosthesis; Degenerative disc disease; Flexion-relaxation phenomenon; Lumbar kinematics
Axial myopathy is a rare neuromuscular disease that is characterized by paraspinal muscle atrophy and abnormal posture, most notably camptocormia (also known as bent spine). The genetic cause of familial axial myopathy is unknown. Described here are the clinical features and cause of late-onset predominant axial myopathy and encephalopathy. A 73-year-old woman presented with a 10-year history of severe paraspinal muscle atrophy and cerebellar ataxia. Her 84-year-old sister also developed late-onset paraspinal muscle atrophy and generalized seizures with encephalopathy. Computed tomography showed severe atrophy and fatty degeneration of their paraspinal muscles. Their mother and maternal aunt also developed bent spines. The existence of many ragged-red fibers and cytochrome c oxidase-negative fibers in the biceps brachii muscle of the proband indicated a mitochondrial abnormality. No significant abnormalities were observed in the respiratory chain enzyme activities; however, the activities of complexes I and IV were relatively low compared with the activities of other complexes. Sequence analysis of the mitochondrial DNA from the muscle revealed a novel heteroplasmic mutation (m.602C>T) in the mitochondrial tRNAPhe gene. This familial case of late-onset predominant axial myopathy and encephalopathy may represent a new clinical phenotype of a mitochondrial disease.
Mitochondrial disease; Predominant axial myopathy; Encephalopathy; Late-onset; Familial case
In neutral spinal postures with low loading moments the lumbar spine is not inherently stable. Small compromises in paraspinal muscle activity may affect lumbar spinal biomechanics. Proprioceptive feedback from muscle spindles is considered important for control of muscle activity. Because skeletal muscle and muscle spindles are thixotropic, their length history changes their physical properties. The present study explores a mechanism that can affect the responsiveness of paraspinal muscle spindles in the lumbar spine.
This study had two aims: to extend our previous findings demonstrating the history dependent effects of vertebral position on the responsiveness of lumbar paraspinal muscle spindles; and to determine the time course for these effects. Based upon previous studies, if a crossbridge mechanism underlies these thixotropic effects, then the relationship between the magnitude of spindle discharge and the duration of the vertebral position will be one of exponential decay or growth.
A neurophysiological study using the lumbar spine of a feline model.
The discharge from individual muscle spindles afferents innervating lumbar paraspinal muscles in response to the duration and direction of vertebral position were obtained from teased filaments in the L6 dorsal roots of 30 Nembutal-anesthetized cats. The L6 vertebra was controlled using a displacement-controlled feedback motor and was held in each of 3 different conditioning positions for durations of 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 seconds. Two of the conditioning positions stretched or shortened the lumbar muscles relative to an intermediate conditioning position. Conditioning positions for all cats ranged from 0.9 – 2.0 mm dorsal and ventralward relative to the intermediate position. These magnitudes were determined based upon the displacement that loaded the L6 vertebra to 50–60% of the cat’s body weight. Conditioning was thought to simulate a motion segment’s position that might be passively maintained due to fixation, external load, a prolonged posture, or structural change. Following conditioning positions that stretched (hold-long) and shortened (hold-short) the spindle, the vertebra was repositioned identically and muscle spindle discharge at rest and to movement was compared with conditioning at the intermediate position.
Lumbar vertebral positions maintained for less than 2 seconds were capable of evoking different discharge rates from lumbar paraspinal muscle spindles despite the vertebra having been returned to identical locations. Both resting spindle discharge and their responsiveness to movement were altered. Conditioning vertebral positions that stretched the spindles decreased spindle activity and positions that unloaded the spindles increased spindle activity upon returning the vertebra to identical original (intermediate) positions. The magnitude of these effects increased as conditioning duration increased to 2 seconds. These effects developed with a time course following a first order exponential reaching a maximal value after approximately 4 seconds of history. The time constant for a hold-short history was 2.6 seconds and for a hold-long history was approximately half of that at 1.1 seconds.
Thixotropic contributions to the responsiveness of muscles spindles in the low back are caused by the rapid, spontaneous formation of stable crossbridges. These sensory alterations due to vertebral history would represent a proprioceptive input not necessarily representative of the current state of intersegmental positioning. As such, they would constitute a source of inaccurate sensory feedback. Examples are presented suggesting ways in which this novel finding may affect spinal physiology.
Homonymous and heteronymous reflex connections of the paraspinal muscles were investigated by the application of a tap to the muscle bellies of the lumbar multifidus and iliocostalis lumborum muscles and observation of surface electromyographic responses in the same muscles on both sides of the trunk. Reflexes were evoked in each of the homonymous muscles with latencies and estimated conduction velocities compatible with being evoked by Ia muscle afferents and having a monosynaptic component. Short latency heteronymous excitatory reflex connections were observed in muscles on the ipsilateral side, whilst reflex responses in the contralateral muscles were inhibitory in response to the same stimulus. The latencies of the crossed responses were on average 9.1 ms longer than the ipsilateral excitatory responses. These results are in contrast to the crossed excitatory responses observed between the abdominal muscles and trapezius muscles on the opposite aspect of the trunk. Such a difference in the reflex pathways between these two groups of trunk muscles compliments the different anatomical arrangement of the muscle groups and suggests a contribution to their commonly observed activation patterns.
Stretch reflex; Paraspinal muscles; Crossed reflex
No consensus exists on how rehabilitation programs for lumbar discectomy patients with persistent complaints after surgery should be composed. A better understanding of normal and abnormal postoperative trunk muscle condition might help direct the treatment goals.
A three-dimensional CT scan of the lumbar spine was obtained in 18 symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic patients who had undergone a lumbar discectomy 42 months to 83 months (median 63 months) previously. The psoas muscle (PS), the paraspinal muscle mass (PA) and the multifidus muscle (MF) were outlined at the L3, L4 and L5 level. Of these muscles, fat free Cross Sectional Area (CSA) and fat CSA were determined. CSA of the lumbar erector spinae (LES = longissimus thoracis + iliocostalis lumborum) was calculated by subtracting MF CSA from PA CSA. Mean muscle CSA of the left and right sides was calculated at each level. To normalize the data for interpersonal comparison, the mean CSA was divided by the CSA of the L3 vertebral body (mCSA = normalized fat-free muscle CSA; fCSA = normalized fat CSA). Differences in CSA between the pain group and the pain free group were examined using a General Linear Model (GLM). Three levels were examined to investigate the possible role of the level of operation.
In lumbar discectomy patients with pain, the mCSA of the MF was significantly smaller than in pain-free subjects (p = 0.009) independently of the level. The mCSA of the LES was significantly smaller in pain patients, but only on the L3 slice (p = 0.018). No significant difference in mCSA of the PS was found between pain patients and pain-free patients (p = 0.462). The fCSA of the MF (p = 0.186) and of the LES (p = 0.256) were not significantly different between both populations. However, the fCSA of the PS was significantly larger in pain patients than in pain-free patients. (p = 0.012).
The level of operation was never a significant factor.
CT comparison of MF, LES and PS muscle condition between lumbar discectomy patients without pain and patients with protracted postoperative pain showed a smaller fat-free muscle CSA of the MF at all levels examined, a smaller fat- free muscle CSA of the LES at the L3 level, and more fat in the PS in patients with pain. The level of operation was not found to be of importance. The present results suggest a general lumbar muscle dysfunction in the pain group, in particular of the deep stabilizing muscle system.
Eight elderly patients developed progressive paravertebral muscle weakness with bent spine on standing but normal supine posture. Computed tomography showed pronounced hypodensity of the paraspinal muscles. Serum creatine kinase was moderately increased, paraspinal EMG non-specific, and biopsy myopathic. The syndrome was familial in two patients and may be caused by a late onset paraspinal muscle dystrophy. In the absence of specific pathological changes, such cases could be classified as having "bent spine syndrome".
Paraspinal muscle fatigability during various trunk extension tests has been widely investigated by electromyography (EMG), and its task-dependency is established recently. Hip extensor muscle fatigability during the Sorensen test has been reported. The aim of the present experiments was to evaluate the task-dependency of back and hip extensor muscle fatigue during two variants of the Sorensen test. We hypothesized that the rate of muscular fatigue of the hip and back extensor muscles varies according to the test position. Twenty healthy young males with no history of low back pain volunteered to participate in this cross-sectional study. They were asked to perform two body weight-dependent isometric back extension tests (S1 = Sorensen test; S2 = modified Sorensen on a 45° Roman chair). Surface EMG activity of the paraspinal muscles (T10 and L5 levels) and hip extensor muscles (gluteus maximus; biceps femoris) was recorded, and muscular fatigue was assessed through power spectral analysis of the EMG data by calculating the rate of median power frequency change. We observed hip extensor muscle fatigue simultaneously with paraspinal muscle fatigue during both Sorensen variants. However, only L5 level EMG fatigue indices showed a task-dependency effect between S1 and S2. Hip extensor muscles appear to contribute to load sharing of the upper body mass during both Sorensen variants, but to a different extent because L5 level fatigue differs between the Sorensen variants. Our findings suggest that task-dependency has to be considered when EMG variables are compared between two types of lumbar muscle-fatiguing tasks.
Erector spinae; Hip extensors; Sorensen test; Muscle fatigability; Task-dependency
In this study, we compared the paramedian interfascial approach (PIA) and the traditional midline approach (MA) for lumbar fusion to determine which approach resulted in the least amount of postoperative back muscle atrophy. We performed unilateral transforaminal posterior lumbar interbody fusion via MA on the symptomatic side and pedicle screw fixation via PIA on the other side in the same patient. We evaluated the damage to the paraspinal muscle after MA and PIA by measuring the preoperative and postoperative paraspinal muscle volume in 26 patients. The preoperative and postoperative cross-sectional area, thickness, and width of the multifidus muscle were measured by computed tomography. The degree of postoperative paraspinal muscle atrophy was significantly greater on the MA side than on the contralateral PIA side (-20.7% and -4.8%, respectively, p<0.01). In conclusion, the PIA for lumbar fusion yielded successful outcomes for the preservation of paraspinal muscle in these 26 patients. We suggest that the success of PIA is due to less manipulation and retraction of the paraspinal muscle and further studies on this technique may help confirm whether less muscle injury has positive effects on the long-term clinical outcome.
Paraspinal Muscle; Paramedian Approach; Muscle Atrophy; Lumbar Spine
Isolated lumbar paraspinal muscle fatigue causes lower extremity and postural control deficits.
To describe the change in body position during gait after fatiguing lumbar extension exercises in persons with recurrent episodes of low back pain compared with healthy controls.
Motion analysis laboratory.
Patients or Other Participants:
Twenty-five recreationally active participants with a history of recurrent episodes of low back pain, matched by sex, height, and mass with 25 healthy controls.
We measured 3-dimensional lower extremity and trunk kinematics before and after fatiguing isometric lumbar paraspinal exercise.
Main Outcome Measure(s):
Measurements were taken while participants jogged on a custom-built treadmill surrounded by a 10-camera motion analysis system.
Group-by-time interactions were observed for lumbar lordosis and trunk angles (P < .05). A reduced lumbar spine extension angle was noted, reflecting a loss of lordosis and an increase in trunk flexion angle, indicating increased forward trunk lean, in healthy controls after fatiguing lumbar extension exercise. In contrast, persons with a history of recurrent low back pain exhibited a slight increase in spine extension, indicating a slightly more lordotic position of the lumbar spine, and a decrease in trunk flexion angles after fatiguing exercise. Regardless of group, participants experienced, on average, greater peak hip extension after lumbar paraspinal fatigue.
Small differences in response may represent a necessary adaptation used by persons with recurrent low back pain to preserve gait function by stabilizing the spine and preventing inappropriate trunk and lumbar spine positioning.
gait analysis; spine
The original description of the paraspinal posterior approach to the lumbar spine was for spinal fusion, especially regarding lumbosacral spondylolisthesis treatment. In spite of the technical details described by Wiltse, exact location of the area where the sacrospinalis muscle has to be split remains somewhat unclear. The goal of this study was to provide topographic landmarks to facilitate this surgical approach. Thirty cadavers were dissected in order to precisely describe the anatomy of the trans-muscular paraspinal approach. The level of the natural cleavage plane between the multifidus and the longissimus part of the sacrospinalis muscle was noted and measurements were done between this level and the midline at the level of the spinous process of L4. A natural cleavage plane between the multifidus and the longissimus part of the sacrospinalis muscle was present in all cases. There was a fibrous separation between the two muscular parts in 55 out of 60 cases. The mean distance between the level of the cleavage plane and the midline was 4 cm (2.4–5.5 cm). In all cases, small arteries and veins were present, precisely at the level of the cleavage plane. We found it possible to easily localize the anatomical cleavage plane between the multifidus part and the longissimus part of the sacrospinalis muscle. First the superficial muscular fascia is opened near the midline, exposing the posterior aspect of the sacrospinalis muscle. Then, the location of the muscular cleft can be found by identifying the perforating vessels leaving the anatomical inter-muscular space.
Paraspinal approach; Lumbar spine; Lumbosacral spondylolisthesis; Sacrospinalis muscle; Minimally invasive approach
The paraspinal muscles have been implicated as a major causative factor in the progression of idiopathic scoliosis. Therefore, the objectives of this preliminary study were to measure the electromyographic activity (EMG) of the paraspinal muscles to determine its relationship to progression of the scoliotic curve. Idiopathic scoliotic patients were selected and identified afterwards on curve progression. The EMG activity on both sides of the spine was measured in a set of standardized postures using bipolar surface electrodes at the apex and two end vertebrae of the scoliotic curve. An EMG ratio involving measurements of the EMG activity on the convex and concave sides of the scoliotic curve was used to evaluate the paraspinal muscles. Enhanced EMG ratios at the apex of the scoliotic curve were found in both groups during sitting and standing. The most interesting finding was that children with progression of the curve also showed enhanced EMG ratios at the lower end vertebra of the curve. The EMG ratios between the groups were significantly different from each other at the apex and end vertebrae for several test conditions. Overlap in the EMG-ratio ranges made differentiation difficult for prediction of the progression of the individual scoliosis patient. However, the EMG ratio at the lower end vertebra of the scoliotic curve is significantly higher than 1 in all test conditions in the group of children with subsequent progression of the curve, whereas it is always normal in the non-progressive group. Therefore, EMG of the paraspinal muscles might be of value for prediction of progression in idiopathic scoliosis.
Spine; Scoliosis; Progression; Electromyography; Asymmetry
Vibration is known to alter proprioceptive afferents and create a tonic vibration reflex. The control of force and its variability are often considered determinants of motor performance and neuromuscular control. However, the effect of vibration on paraspinal muscle control and force production remains to be determined.
Twenty-one healthy adults were asked to perform isometric trunk flexion and extension torque at 60% of their maximal voluntary isometric contraction, under three different vibration conditions: no vibration, vibration frequencies of 30 Hz and 80 Hz. Eighteen isometric contractions were performed under each condition without any feedback. Mechanical vibrations were applied bilaterally over the lumbar erector spinae muscles while participants were in neutral standing position. Time to peak torque (TPT), variable error (VE) as well as constant error (CE) and absolute error (AE) in peak torque were calculated and compared between conditions.
The main finding suggests that erector spinae muscle vibration significantly decreases the accuracy in a trunk extension isometric force reproduction task. There was no difference between both vibration frequencies with regard to force production parameters. Antagonist muscles do not seem to be directly affected by vibration stimulation when performing a trunk isometric task.
The results suggest that acute erector spinae muscle vibration interferes with torque generation sequence of the trunk by distorting proprioceptive information in healthy participants.
Muscle vibration; Muscle spindle; Low back; Neuromuscular responses; Isometric force; Proprioception; Erector spinae muscles
Females have a higher risk of experiencing low back pain or injury than males. One possible reason for this might be altered reflexes since longer paraspinal reflex latencies exist in injured patients versus healthy controls. Gender differences have been reported in paraspinal reflex latency, yet findings are inconsistent. The goal here was to investigate gender differences in paraspinal reflex latency, avoiding and accounting for potentially gender-confounding experimental factors.
Ten males and ten females underwent repeated trunk flexion perturbations. Paraspinal muscle activity and trunk kinematics were recorded to calculate reflex latency and maximum trunk flexion velocity. Two-way mixed model ANOVAs were used to determine the effects of gender on reflex latency and maximum trunk flexion velocity.
Reflex latency was 18.7% shorter in females than in males (P=0.02) when exposed to identical trunk perturbations, and did not vary by impulse (P=0.38). However, maximum trunk flexion velocity was 35.3% faster in females than males (P=0.01) when exposed to identical trunk perturbations, and increased with impulse (P<0.01). While controlling for differences in maximum trunk flexion velocity, reflex latency was 16.4% shorter in females than males (P=0.04).
The higher prevalence of low back pain and injury among females does not appear to result from slower paraspinal reflexes.
Gender; Paraspinal; Reflex Latency; Spinal Stability Control; Trunk Perturbations; Kinematics; Low Back Pain; Low Back Injury; Female; Male
The RAZOR curl has been introduced as a hamstring exercise. However, modifications to the exercise have been developed which are proposed to utilize some of the muscles of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. Thus, it was the purpose of this study to quantitatively examine the modified RAZOR curl using surface electromyography (sEMG), as an exercise that may recruit the trunk muscles of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.
Twenty-eight active male and female graduate students (24.2±1.3 years; 174.8±9.9 cm; 74.9±14.9 kg), consented to participate. Dependent variables were muscle activation of trunk musculature (dominant side gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, multifidus, longissimus, lower rectus abdominis, upper rectus abdominis, external obliques) reported as percent of maximum voluntary isometric contraction (%MVIC) during the exercise while the independent variable was the muscle selected.
The multifidus and longissimus demonstrated moderately strong activation (35-50%MVIC) while the upper rectus abdominis demonstrated strong activation (20-35%MVIC) and the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, lower rectus abdominis, and external obliques had minimal activation.
These findings allow the practitioner to utilize an exercise that provides a functional training stimulus that activates not only the hamstrings but also some musculature of the trunk muscles of the lumbopelvic-hip complex at strong to moderately strong levels.
Level of Evidence:
core control; core stabilization; functional exercises; sEMG
The flexion relaxation phenomenon (FRP) is an interesting model to study the modulation of lumbar stability. Previous investigations have explored the effect of load, angular velocity and posture on this particular response. However, the influence of muscular fatigue on FRP parameters has not been thoroughly examined. The objective of the study is to identify the effect of erector spinae (ES) muscle fatigue and spine loading on myoelectric silence onset and cessation in healthy individuals during a flexion-extension task.
Twenty healthy subjects participated in this study and performed blocks of 3 complete trunk flexions under 4 different experimental conditions: no fatigue/no load (1), no fatigue/load (2), fatigue/no load(3), and fatigue/load (4). Fatigue was induced according to the Sorenson protocol, and electromyographic (EMG) power spectral analysis confirmed that muscular fatigue was adequate in each subject. Trunk and pelvis angles and surface EMG of the ES L2 and L5 were recorded during a flexion-extension task. Trunk flexion angle corresponding to the onset and cessation of myoelectric silence was then compared across the different experimental conditions using 2 × 2 repeated-measures ANOVA.
Onset of myoelectric silence during the flexion motion appeared earlier after the fatigue task. Additionally, the cessation of myoelectric silence was observed later during the extension after the fatigue task. Statistical analysis also yielded a main effect of load, indicating a persistence of ES myoelectric activity in flexion during the load condition.
The results of this study suggest that the presence of fatigue of the ES muscles modifies the FRP. Superficial back muscle fatigue seems to induce a shift in load-sharing towards passive stabilizing structures. The loss of muscle contribution together with or without laxity in the viscoelastic tissues may have a substantial impact on post fatigue stability.
A proposed mechanism for the persistence of low back pain due to clinical instability is a decrease in control of local spinal musculature, more specifically decreased recruitment of multifidus. Altered segmental mechanoreceptor input has been proposed as a contributing factor responsible for a decrease in local muscle recruitment. In this case report, immediate changes in the recruitment of the deep multifidus following manipulation were examined using needle EMG and isometric testing of trunk rotational force. Trunk rotational force appeared to improve while the multifidus demonstrated a decrease in activity as measured by needle EMG. No specific conclusions can be drawn from this report; however, the results do suggest that immediate multifidus function may be influenced with manipulation, resulting in improved muscular control of the trunk.
Instability; Manipulation; Multifidus; Needle EMG