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1.  The decreased responsiveness of lumbar muscle spindles to a prior history of spinal muscle lengthening is graded with the magnitude of change in vertebral position 
In the lumbar spine, muscle spindle responsiveness is affected by the duration and direction of a lumbar vertebra’s positional history. The purpose of the present study was to determine the relationship between changes in the magnitude of a lumbar vertebra’s positional history and the responsiveness of lumbar muscle spindles to a subsequent vertebral position and subsequent vertebral movement. Neural activity from multifidus and longissimus muscle spindle afferents in deeply anesthetized cats was recorded while creating positional histories of the L6 vertebra. History was induced using a displacement-controlled feedback motor. It held the L6 vertebra for 4 seconds at an intermediate position (hold-intermediate at 0mm) and at 7 positions from 0.07 to 1.55mm more ventralward and dorsalward which lengthened (hold-long) and shortened (hold-short) the lumbar muscles. Following the conditioning hold positions, L6 was returned to the intermediate position. Muscle spindle discharge at this position and during a lengthening movement was compared between hold-intermediate and hold-short conditionings and between hold-intermediate and hold-short conditionings. We found that regardless of conditioning magnitude, the 7 shortening magnitudes similarly increased muscle spindle responsiveness to both vertebral position and movement. In contrast, the 7 lengthening magnitudes produced a graded decrease in responsiveness to both position and movement. The decrease to position became maximal following conditioning magnitudes of ~0.75 mm. The decrease to movement did not reach a maximum even with conditioning magnitudes of ~1.55 mm. The data suggest that the fidelity of proprioceptive information from muscle spindles in the low back is influenced by small changes in the previous length history of lumbar muscles.
PMCID: PMC3749777  PMID: 22721784
lumbar spine; muscle spindle; proprioception; thixotropy; multifidus; longissimus
Background Context
Spinal manipulation (SM) is a form of manual therapy used clinically to treat patients with low back and neck pain. The most common form of this maneuver is characterized as a high velocity (duration < 150ms), low amplitude (segmental translation < 2mm, rotation < 4°, and applied force 220-889N) impulse thrust (HVLA-SM). Clinical skill in applying an HVLA-SM lies in the practitioner's ability to control the duration and magnitude of the load (i.e., the rate of loading), the direction in which the load is applied, and the contact point at which the load is applied. Control over its mechanical delivery presumably related to its clinical effects. Biomechanical changes evoked by an HVLA-SM are thought to have physiological consequences caused, at least in part, by changes in sensory signaling from paraspinal tissues.
If activation of afferent pathways does contribute to the effects of an HVLA-SM, it seems reasonable to anticipate that neural discharge might increase or decrease in a non-linear fashion as the thrust duration thrust approaches a threshold value. We hypothesized that the relationship between the duration of an impulsive thrust to a vertebra and paraspinal muscle spindle discharge would be non-linear with an inflection near the duration of an HVLA-SM delivered clinically (<150ms). In addition, we anticipated that muscle spindle discharge would be more sensitive to larger amplitude thrusts.
Study Design/Setting
A neurophysiological study of spinal manipulation using the lumbar spine of a feline model.
Impulse thrusts (duration: 12.5, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400 ms; amplitude 1 or 2mm posterior to anterior) were applied to the spinous process of the L6 vertebra of deeply anesthetized cats while recording single unit activity from dorsal root filaments of muscle spindle afferents innervating the lumbar paraspinal muscles. A feedback motor was used in displacement control mode to deliver the impulse thrusts. The motor's drive arm was securely attached to the L6 spinous process via a forceps.
As thrust duration became shorter the discharge of the lumbar paraspinal muscle spindles increased in a curvilinear fashion. A concave up inflection occurred near the 100ms duration eliciting both a higher frequency discharge compared to the longer durations and a substantially faster rate of change as thrust duration was shortened. This pattern was evident in paraspinal afferents with receptive fields both close and far from the midline. Paradoxically, spindle afferents were almost twice as sensitive to the 1mm compared to the 2mm amplitude thrust (6.2 vs 3.3 spikes/s/mm/s). This latter finding may be related to the small vs large signal range properties of muscle spindles.
. The results indicate that the duration and amplitude of a spinal manipulation elicits a pattern of discharge from paraspinal muscle spindles different from slower mechanical inputs. Clinically, these parameters may be important determinants of an HVLA-SM's therapeutic benefit.
PMCID: PMC2075482  PMID: 17905321
lumbar spine; spinal manipulation; chiropractic; osteopathy; paraspinal muscles; muscle spindle
3.  Effects of thrust amplitude and duration of high velocity low amplitude spinal manipulation on lumbar muscle spindle responses to vertebral position and movement 
Mechanical characteristics of high velocity low amplitude spinal manipulations (HVLA-SM) can be variable. Sustained changes in peripheral neuronal signaling due to altered load transmission to a sensory receptor’s local mechanical environment are often considered a mechanism contributing to the therapeutic effects of spinal manipulation. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an HVLA-SM’s thrust amplitude or duration altered neural responsiveness of lumbar muscle spindles to either vertebral movement or position.
Anesthetized cats (n=112) received L6 HVLA-SMs delivered to the spinous process. Cats were divided into 6 cohorts depending upon the peak thrust force (25%, 55%, 85% body weight) or thrust displacement (1, 2, 3mm) they received. Cats in each cohort received 8 thrust durations (0–250ms). Afferent discharge from 112 spindles was recorded in response to ramp and hold vertebral movement before and after the manipulation. Changes in mean instantaneous frequency (MIF) during the baseline period preceding the ramps (ΔMIFresting), during ramp movements (ΔMIFmovement), and with the vertebra held in the new position (ΔMIFposition) were compared.
Thrust duration had a small but statistically significant effect on ΔMIFresting at all six thrust amplitudes compared to control (0ms thrust duration). The lowest amplitude thrust displacement (1mm) increased ΔMIFresting at all thrust durations. For all the other thrust displacements and forces, the direction of change in ΔMIFresting was not consistent and the pattern of change was not systematically related to thrust duration. Regardless of thrust force, displacement, or duration, ΔMIFmovement and ΔMIFposition were not significantly different from control.
Relatively low amplitude thrust displacements applied during an HVLA-SM produced sustained increases in the resting discharge of paraspinal muscle spindles regardless of the duration over which the thrust was applied. However, regardless of the HVLA-SM’s thrust amplitude or duration, the responsiveness of paraspinal muscle spindles to vertebral movement and to a new vertebral position was not affected.
PMCID: PMC3752031  PMID: 23499141
spinal manipulation; dose; neurophysiology; paraspinal muscles; muscle spindle; Spine; Chiropractic
4.  Effect of spinal manipulation on the development of history-dependent responsiveness of lumbar paraspinal muscle spindles in the cat 
We determined whether spinal manipulation could prevent and/or reverse the decrease and increase in paraspinal muscle spindle responsiveness caused respectively by lengthening and shortening histories of the lumbar muscles. Single unit spindle activity from multifidus and longissimus muscles was recorded in the L6 dorsal root in anesthetized cats. Muscle history was created and spinal manipulation delivered (thrust amplitude: 1.0mm, duration: 100ms) using a feedback-controlled motor attached to the L6 spinous process. Muscle spindle discharge to a fixed vertebral position (static test) and to vertebral movement (dynamic test) was evaluated following the lengthening and shortening histories. For the static test, changes in muscle spindle responsiveness were significantly less when spinal manipulation followed muscle history (p<0.01), but not when spinal manipulation preceded it (p>0.05). For the dynamic test, spinal manipulation did not significantly affect the history-induced change in muscle spindle responsiveness. Spinal manipulation may partially reverse the effects of muscle history on muscle spindle signaling of vertebral position.
PMCID: PMC4045034  PMID: 24932019
Muscle spindle; proprioception; spinal manipulation; lumbar spine; paraspinal muscle; thixotropy; muscle history; chiropractic; Fuseau musculaire; proprioception; manipulation vertébrale; colonne lombaire; muscle paravertébral; thixotropie; antécédent musculaire; chiropratique
5.  Using vertebral movement and intact paraspinal muscles to determine the distribution of intrafusal fiber innervation of muscle spindle afferents in the anesthetized cat 
Increasing our knowledge regarding intrafusal fiber distribution and physiology of paraspinal proprioceptors may provide key insights regarding proprioceptive deficits in trunk control associated with low back pain and lead to more effective clinical intervention. The use of vertebral movement as a means to reliably stretch paraspinal muscles would greatly facilitate physiological study of paraspinal muscle proprioceptors where muscle tendon isolation is either very difficult or impossible. The effects of succinylcholine (SCh) on 194 muscle spindle afferents from lumbar longissimus or multifidus muscles in response to computer-controlled, ramp and hold movements of the L6 vertebra were investigated in anesthetized cats. Paraspinal muscles were stretched by moving the L6 vertebra 1.5 to1.7mm in the dorsal-ventral direction. Initial frequency (IF), dynamic difference (DD), their changes (Δ) following SCh injection (100-400μg ·kg−1), and post-SCh dynamic difference (SChDD) were measured. Muscle spindle intrafusal fiber terminations were classified as primary or secondary fibers as well as bag1 (b1c), bag2 (b2c), b1b2c, or chain (c) fibers. Intrafusal fiber subpopulations were distinguished using logarithmic transformation of SChDD and ΔIF distributions as established by previous investigators. Increases in DD indicate strength of b1c influence while increases in IF indicate strength of b2c influence. Out of 194 afferents, 46.9% of afferents terminated on b2c fibers, 46.4% on b1b2c fibers, 1% on b1c fibers and 5.7% terminated on c fibers. Based on these intrafusal fiber subpopulation distributions, controlled vertebral movement can effectively substitute for direct tendon stretch and allow further investigation of paraspinal proprioceptors in this anatomically complex body region.
PMCID: PMC3578157  PMID: 23229776
Muscle Spindle; Neurophysiology; Paraspinal Muscles; Trunk; Lumbar Spine; Succinylcholine
6.  Persons with recurrent low back pain exhibit a rigid postural control strategy 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(9):1177-1184.
Persons with recurrent low back pain (LBP) have been observed to have altered proprioceptive postural control. These patients seem to adopt a body and trunk stiffening strategy and rely more on ankle proprioception to control their posture during quiet upright standing. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of changing postural condition (stable and unstable support surface) on postural stability and proprioceptive postural control strategy in persons with recurrent LBP. Postural sway characteristics of 21 persons with recurrent LBP and 24 healthy individuals were evaluated in upright posture with or without standing on “foam” for the conditions as follows: (1) control (no vibration); (2) vibration of the triceps surae muscles; (3) paraspinal muscle vibration; (4) vibration of the tibialis anterior muscles. Vision was occluded in all conditions except for one control trial. All trials lasted 60 s. Vibration (60 Hz, 0.5 mm), as a potent stimulus for muscle spindles, was initiated 15 s after the start of the trial for a duration of 15 s. Persons with recurrent LBP showed significantly different postural control strategies favoring ankle muscle proprioceptive control (ratio closer to 1) instead of paraspinal muscle proprioceptive control (ratio closer to 0) for both standing without foam (ratio ankle muscle/paraspinal muscle control = 0.83) (P < 0.0001) and on foam (ratio ankle muscle/paraspinal muscle control = 0.87; P < 0.0001) compared to healthy individuals (0.67 and 0.46, respectively). It is concluded that young persons with recurrent LBP seem to use the same proprioceptive postural control strategy even in conditions when this ankle strategy is not the most appropriate such as standing on an unstable support surface. The adopted proprioceptive postural control strategy might be effective in simple conditions, however, when used in all postural conditions this could be a mechanism to undue spinal loading, pain and recurrences.
PMCID: PMC2527415  PMID: 18594876
Postural stability; Proprioception; Muscle control; Vibration; Variability
7.  Effect of changing lumbar stiffness by single facet joint dysfunction on the responsiveness of lumbar muscle spindles to vertebral movement 
Individuals experiencing low back pain often present clinically with intervertebral joint dysfunction. The purpose of this study was to determine whether relative changes in stiffness at a single spinal joint alters neural responsiveness of lumbar muscle spindles to either vertebral movement or position.
Muscle spindle discharge was recorded in response to 1mm L6 ramp and hold movements (0.5mm/s) in the same animal for lumbar laminectomy-only (n=23), laminectomy & L5/6 facet screw (n=19), laminectomy & L5/6 facetectomy (n=5) conditions. Mean instantaneous frequency (MIF) was calculated for the ramp-up, hold, ramp-down and post-ramp phases during each joint condition.
Mean MIFs were not significantly different between the laminectomy-only and the other two types of joint dysfunction for the ramp-up, hold, ramp-down, or post-ramp phases.
Stiffness changes caused by single facet joint dysfunction failed to alter spindle responses during slow 1mm ramp and hold movements of the L6 vertebra.
PMCID: PMC4025086  PMID: 24932020
stiffness; joint; muscle spindle; chiropractic; rigidité; articulation; fuseau musculaire; chiropratique
8.  Effects of unilateral facet fixation and facetectomy on muscle spindle responsiveness during simulated spinal manipulation in an animal model 
Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics  2013;36(9):10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.08.007.
Manual therapy practitioners commonly assess lumbar intervertebral mobility before deciding treatment regimens. Changes in mechanoreceptor activity during the manipulative thrust are theorized to be an underlying mechanism of spinal manipulation (SM) efficacy. The objective of this study was to determine if facet fixation or facetectomy at a single lumbar level alters muscle spindle activity during 5 SM thrust durations in an animal model.
Spinal stiffness was determined using the slope of a force-displacement curve. Changes in the mean instantaneous frequency of spindle discharge were measured during simulated SM of the L6 vertebra in the same 20 afferents for laminectomy-only, 19 laminectomy & facet screw conditions; only 5 also had data for the laminectomy & facetectomy condition. Neural responses were compared across conditions and five thrust durations (≤ 250ms) using linear mixed models.
Significant decreases in afferent activity between the laminectomy-only and laminectomy & facet screw conditions were seen during 75ms (P<.001), 100ms (P=.04) and 150ms (P=.02) SM thrust durations. Significant increases in spindle activity between the laminectomy-only and laminectomy & facetectomy conditions were seen during the 75ms (P<.001) and 100ms (P<.001) thrust durations.
Intervertebral mobility at a single segmental level alters paraspinal sensory response during clinically relevant high velocity low amplitude SM thrust durations (≤150ms). The relationship between intervertebral joint mobility and alterations of primary afferent activity during and following various manual therapy interventions may be used to help to identify patient subpopulations who respond to different types of manual therapy and better inform practitioners (eg, chiropractic, osteopathic) delivering the therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC3852908  PMID: 24161386
Manipulation, Spinal; Muscle Spindle; Zygapophyseal Joint; Neurons, Afferent; Chiropractic
9.  Lumbar paraspinal and biceps brachii muscle function and movement perception in lumbar spinal stenosis 
European Spine Journal  2012;22(4):788-793.
Impaired muscle function and lumbar proprioception have been observed in lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) but those have not been studied in LSS patients with age-matched controls. We assessed lumbar movement perception and paraspinal and biceps brachii (BB) muscle responses during sudden upper limb loading in age-matched healthy subjects and patients with LSS.
The study included 30 patients selected for an operation due to LSS and 30 age-matched controls without chronic back pain. The paraspinal and BB muscle responses for upper limb loading during unexpected and expected conditions were measured by surface EMG. The ability to sense lumbar rotation was assessed in a previously validated motorized trunk rotation unit in a seated position. Pain, disability and depression scores were recorded.
Patients had poorer lumbar perception (mean difference 2.3 ± 0.6°, P < 0.001) and longer paraspinal muscle response latencies [mean difference 4.6 ± 0.6 ms (P = 0.033)] than age-matched healthy controls. Anticipation increased paraspinal and BB muscle activation prior to the load perturbation (P < 0.001) but less in LSS patients than in controls [9 vs. 30 %, P = 0.016 (paraspinals); 68 vs. 118 %, P = 0.047 (BB)].
The observed impairments in lumbar proprioception and activation of paraspinal and upper limb muscles indicate an extensive loss of both sensory and motor functions in LSS. The main new finding was decreased anticipatory muscle activation during expected upper limb loading reflecting involvement of central movement control mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3631031  PMID: 23179975
Lumbar proprioception; Paraspinal reflexes; Feed-forward control; Low back pain; Lumbar spinal stenosis
10.  Head repositioning errors in normal student volunteers: a possible tool to assess the neck's neuromuscular system 
A challenge for practitioners using spinal manipulation is identifying when an intervention is required. It has been recognized that joint pain can interfere with the ability to position body parts accurately and that the recent history of muscle contraction can play a part in that interference. In this study, we tested whether repositioning errors could be induced in a normal population by contraction or shortening of the neck muscles.
In the experimental protocol, volunteers free of neck problems first found a comfortable neutral head posture with eyes closed. They deconditioned their cervical muscles by moving their heads 5 times in either flexion/extension or lateral flexion and then attempted to return to the same starting position. Two conditioning sequences were interspersed within the task: hold the head in an extended or laterally flexed position for 10 seconds; or hold a 70% maximum voluntary contraction in the same position for 10 seconds. A computer-interfaced electrogoniometer was used to measure head position while a force transducer coupled to an auditory alarm signaled the force of isometric contraction. The difference between the initial and final head orientation was calculated in 3 orthogonal planes. Analysis of variance (1-way ANOVA) with a blocking factor (participants) was used to detect differences in proprioceptive error among the conditioning sequences while controlling for variation between participants.
Forty-eight chiropractic students participated: 36 males and 12 females, aged 28.2 ± 4.8 yrs. During the neck extension test, actively contracting the posterior neck muscles evoked an undershoot of the target position by 2.1° (p <0.001). No differences in repositioning were found during the lateral flexion test.
The results suggest that the recent history of cervical paraspinal muscle contraction can influence head repositioning in flexion/extension. To our knowledge this is the first time that muscle mechanical history has been shown to influence proprioceptive accuracy in the necks of humans. This finding may be used to elucidate the mechanism behind repositioning errors seen in people with neck pain and could guide development of a clinical test for involvement of paraspinal muscles in cervical pain and dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC1450294  PMID: 16519811
11.  Synergy of the human spine in neutral postures 
European Spine Journal  1998;7(6):471-479.
The neutral position of the spine is the posture most commonly sustained throughout daily activities. Previous investigations of the spine focused mainly on maximal exertions in various symmetric and asymmetric postures. This report proposes a new synergetic approach for analysis of the spine in neutral postures and evaluates its performance. The model consists of passive components, the osteoligamentous spine, and active components, the spinal muscles. The muscle architecture includes 60 muscles inserting onto both the rib cage and lumbar vertebral bodies. The passive spine is simulated by a finite element model, while kinematic constraints and optimization are used for resolution of a redundant muscle recruitment problem. Although the passive spine alone exhibits little resistance to a vertical load, its load-bearing capacity in neutral posture is significantly enhanced by the muscles, i.e., the passive spine and its muscles must be considered as a synergetic system. The proposed method is used to investigate the response of the spine when the T1 vertebra displaces 40 mm anteriorly and 20 mm posteriorly from its initial position. The sacrum is fixed at all times and the T1 displacements are achieved by the action of muscles. The results suggest that relatively small muscle activations are sufficient to stabilize the spine in neutral posture under the body weight. The results also indicate that muscles attaching onto the rib cage are important for control of the overall spinal posture and maintenance of equilibrium. The muscles inserting onto the lumbar vertebrae are found mainly to enhance the stability of the spine. The proposed method also predicts forces and moments carried by the passive system. Flexion moments ranging from 8000 Nmm to 15,000 Nmm, corresponding to decreases in lordosis of 6° and 7.5° respectively, are found to be carried by the passive spine at the thoracolumbar junction when the T1 vertebra is 40 mm anterior to its initial position.
PMCID: PMC3611302  PMID: 9883956
Key words Synergy; Passive spine; Muscles; Equilibrium; Stability
12.  Are Spinal or Paraspinal Anatomic Markers Helpful for Vertebral Numbering and Diagnosing Lumbosacral Transitional Vertebrae? 
Korean Journal of Radiology  2014;15(2):258-266.
To evaluate the value of spinal and paraspinal anatomic markers in both the diagnosis of lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LSTVs) and identification of vertebral levels on lumbar MRI.
Materials and Methods
Lumbar MRI from 1049 adult patients were studied. By comparing with the whole-spine localizer, the diagnostic errors in numbering vertebral segments on lumbar MRI were evaluated. The morphology of S1-2 disc, L5 and S1 body, and lumbar spinous processes (SPs) were evaluated by using sagittal MRI. The positions of right renal artery (RRA), superior mesenteric artery, aortic bifurcation (AB) and conus medullaris (CM) were described.
The diagnostic error for evaluation of vertebral segmentation on lumbar MRI alone was 14.1%. In lumbarization, all patients revealed a well-formed S1-2 disc with squared S1 body. A rhombus-shaped L5 body in sacralization and a rectangular-shaped S1 body in lumbarization were found. The L3 had the longest SP. The most common sites of spinal and paraspinal structures were: RRA at L1 body (53.6%) and L1-2 disc (34.1%), superior mesenteric artery at L1 body (55.1%) and T12-L1 disc (31.6%), and AB at L4 body (71.1%). CM had variable locations, changing from the T12-L1 disc to L2 body. They were located at higher sacralization and lower lumbarization.
The spinal morphologic features and locations of the spinal and paraspinal structures on lumbar MRI are not completely reliable for the diagnosis of LSTVs and identification on the vertebral levels.
PMCID: PMC3955794  PMID: 24644411
Spine; Lumbosacral vertebrae; Transitional vertebrae; MRI
13.  Jogging Kinematics After Lumbar Paraspinal Muscle Fatigue 
Journal of Athletic Training  2009;44(5):475-481.
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.
Case-control study.
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.
PMCID: PMC2742456  PMID: 19771285
gait analysis; spine
14.  Anterior thoracic posture increases thoracolumbar disc loading 
European Spine Journal  2004;14(3):234-242.
In the absence of external forces, the largest contributor to intervertebral disc (IVD) loads and stresses is trunk muscular activity. The relationship between trunk posture, spine geometry, extensor muscle activity, and the loads and stresses acting on the IVD is not well understood. The objective of this study was to characterize changes in thoracolumbar disc loads and extensor muscle forces following anterior translation of the thoracic spine in the upright posture. Vertebral body geometries (C2 to S1) and the location of the femoral head and acetabulum centroids were obtained by digitizing lateral, full-spine radiographs of 13 men and five women volunteers without previous history of back pain. Two standing, lateral, full-spine radiographic views were obtained for each subject: a neutral-posture lateral radiograph and a radiograph during anterior translation of the thorax relative to the pelvis (while keeping T1 aligned over T12). Extensor muscle loads, and compression and shear stresses acting on the IVDs, were calculated for each posture using a previously validated biomechanical model. Comparing vertebral centroids for the neutral posture to the anterior posture, subjects were able to anterior translate +101.5 mm±33.0 mm (C7–hip axis), +81.5 mm±39.2 mm (C7–S1) (vertebral centroid of C7 compared with a vertical line through the vertebral centroid of S1), and +58.9 mm±19.1 mm (T12–S1). In the anterior translated posture, disc loads and stresses were significantly increased for all levels below T9. Increases in IVD compressive loads and shear loads, and the corresponding stresses, were most marked at the L5–S1 level and L3–L4 level, respectively. The extensor muscle loads required to maintain static equilibrium in the upright posture increased from 147.2 N (mean, neutral posture) to 667.1 N (mean, translated posture) at L5–S1. Compressive loads on the anterior and posterior L5–S1 disc nearly doubled in the anterior translated posture. Anterior translation of the thorax resulted in significantly increased loads and stresses acting on the thoracolumbar spine. This posture is common in lumbar spinal disorders and could contribute to lumbar disc pathologies, progression of L5–S1 spondylolisthesis deformities, and poor outcomes after lumbar spine surgery. In conclusion, anterior trunk translation in the standing subject increases extensor muscle activity and loads and stresses acting on the intervertebral disc in the lower thoracic and lumbar regions.
PMCID: PMC3476747  PMID: 15168237
Posture; Sagittal alignment; Intervertebral disc; Biomechanics; Spinal load
15.  Acute camptocormia induced by olanzapine: a case report 
Camptocormia refers to an abnormal posture with flexion of the thoraco-lumbar spine which increases during walking and resolves in supine position. This symptom is an increasingly recognized feature of parkinsonian and dystonic disorders, but may also be caused by neuromuscular diseases. There is recent evidence that both central and peripheral mechanisms may be involved in the pathogenesis of camptocormia. We report a case of acute onset of camptocormia, a rare side effect induced by olanzapine, a second-generation atypical anti-psychotic drug with fewer extra-pyramidal side-effects, increasingly used as first line therapy for schizophrenia, delusional disorders and bipolar disorder.
Case presentation
A 73-year-old Caucasian woman with no history of neuromuscular disorder, treated for chronic delusional disorder for the last ten years, received two injections of long-acting haloperidol. She was then referred for fatigue. Physical examination showed a frank parkinsonism without other abnormalities. Routine laboratory tests showed normal results, notably concerning creatine kinase level. Fatigue was attributed to haloperidol which was substituted for olanzapine. Our patient left the hospital after five days without complaint. She was admitted again three days later with acute back pain. Examination showed camptocormia and tenderness in paraspinal muscles. Creatine kinase level was elevated (2986 UI/L). Magnetic resonance imaging showed necrosis and edema in paraspinal muscles. Olanzapine was discontinued. Pain resolved quickly and muscle enzymes were normalized within ten days. Risperidone was later introduced without significant side-effect. The camptocormic posture had disappeared when the patient was seen as an out-patient one year later.
Camptocormia is a heterogeneous syndrome of various causes. We believe that our case illustrates the need to search for paraspinal muscle damage, including drug-induced rhabdomyolysis, in patients presenting with acute-onset bent spine syndrome. Although rare, the occurrence of camptocormia induced by olanzapine must be considered.
PMCID: PMC2904791  PMID: 20579377
16.  Analysis and simulation of progressive adolescent scoliosis by biomechanical growth modulation 
European Spine Journal  2007;16(10):1621-1628.
Scoliosis is thought to progress during growth because spinal deformity produces asymmetrical spinal loading, generating asymmetrical growth, etc. in a ‘vicious cycle.’ The aim of this study was to test quantitatively whether calculated loading asymmetry of a spine with scoliosis, together with measured bone growth sensitivity to altered compression, can explain the observed rate of scoliosis progression in the coronal plane during adolescent growth. The simulated spinal geometry represented a lumbar scoliosis of different initial magnitudes, averaged and scaled from measurements of 15 patients’ radiographs. Level-specific stresses acting on the vertebrae were estimated for each of 11 external loading directions (‘efforts’) from published values of spinal loading asymmetry. These calculations assumed a physiologically plausible muscle activation strategy. The rate of vertebral growth was obtained from published reports of growth of the spine. The distribution of growth across vertebrae was modulated according to published values of growth sensitivity to stress. Mechanically modulated growth of a spine having an initial 13° Cobb scoliosis at age 11 with the spine subjected to an unweighted combination of eleven loading conditions (different effort direction and magnitude) was predicted to progress during growth. The overall shape of the curve was retained. The averaged final lumbar spinal curve magnitude was 32° Cobb at age 16 years for the lower magnitude of effort (that produced compressive stress averaging 0.48 MPa at the curve apex) and it was 38° Cobb when the higher magnitudes of efforts (that produced compressive stress averaging 0.81 MPa at the apex). An initial curve of 26° progressed to 46° and 56°, respectively. The calculated stresses on growth plates were within the range of those measured by intradiscal pressures in typical daily activities. These analyses predicted that a substantial component of scoliosis progression during growth is biomechanically mediated. The rationale for conservative management of scoliosis during skeletal growth assumes a biomechanical mode of deformity progression (Hueter-Volkmann principle). The present study provides a quantitative basis for this previously qualitative hypothesis. The findings suggest that an important difference between progressive and non-progressive scoliosis might lie in the differing muscle activation strategies adopted by individuals, leading to the possibility of improved prognosis and conservative or less invasive interventions.
PMCID: PMC2078290  PMID: 17653775
Scoliosis; Progression; Simulation; Growth; Biomechanics
17.  Lumbar position sense acuity during an electrical shock stressor 
Optimal motor control of the spine depends on proprioceptive input as a prerequisite for co-ordination and the stability of the spine. Muscle spindles are known to play an important role in proprioception. Animal experiments suggest that an increase in sympathetic outflow can depress muscle spindle sensitivity. As the muscle spindle may be influenced by sympathetic modulation, we hypothesized that a state of high sympathetic activity as during mental stress would affect the proprioceptive output from the muscle spindles in the back muscles leading to alterations in proprioception and position sense acuity. The aim was to investigate the effect of mental stress, in this study the response to an electrical shock stressor, on position sense acuity in the rotational axis of the lumbar spine.
Passive and active position sense acuity in the rotational plane of the lumbar spine was investigated in the presence and absence of an electrical shock stressor in 14 healthy participants. An electrical shock-threat stressor lasting for approximately 12 minutes was used as imposed stressor to build up a strong anticipatory arousal: The participants were told that they were going to receive 8 painful electrical shocks however the participants never received the shocks. To quantify the level of physiological arousal and the level of sympathetic outflow continuous beat-to-beat changes in heart rate (beats*min-1) and systolic, diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure (mmHg) were measured. To quantify position sense acuity absolute error (AE) expressed in degrees was measured. Two-way analysis of variance with repeated measurements (subjects as random factor and treatments as fixed factors) was used to compare the different treatments.
Significant increases were observed in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate during the stress sessions indicating elevated sympathetic activity (15, 14 and 10%, respectively). Despite pronounced changes in the sympathetic activity and subjective experiences of stress no changes were found in position sense acuity in the rotational plane of the lumbar spine in the presence of the electrical shock stressor compared to the control period.
The present findings indicate that position sense acuity in the rotational plane of the spine was unaffected by the electrical shock stressor.
PMCID: PMC1185546  PMID: 15992402
18.  Clinical application of the paraspinal erector approach for spinal canal decompression in upper lumber burst fractures 
Percutaneous pedicle screw fixation is commonly used for upper lumber burst fractures. The direct decompression remains challenging with this minimally invasive surgery. The objective was to evaluate a novel paraspinal erector approach for effective and direct decompression in patients with canal compromise and neurologic deficit.
Patients (n = 21) with neurological deficiency and Denis B type upper lumbar burst fracture were enrolled in the study, including 14 cases in the L1 and 7 cases in the L2. The patients underwent removal of bone fragments from the spinal canal through intervertebral foramen followed by short-segment fixation. Evaluations included surgery-related, such as duration of surgery and blood loss, and 12-month follow-up, such as the kyphotic angle, the height ratio of the anterior edge of the vertebra, the ratio of sagittal canal compromise, visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and Frankel scores.
All patients achieved direct spinal canal decompression using the paraspinal erector approach followed by percutaneous pedicle screw fixation. The mean operation time (SD) was 173 (23) min, and the mean (SD) blood loss was 301 (104) ml. Significant improvement was noted in the kyphotic angle, 26.2 ± 8.7 prior to operation versus 9.1 ± 4.7 at 12 months after operation (p <0.05); the height ratio of the anterior edge of the injured vertebra, 60 ± 16% versus 84 ± 9% (p <0.05); and the ratio of sagittal canal compromise, 46.5 ± 11.4% versus 4.3 ± 3.6% (p <0.05). Significant improvements in VAS (7.3 ± 1.2 vs. 1.9 ± 0.7, p <0.05), ODI (86.7 ± 5.8 vs. 16.7 ± 5.1, p <0.05), and Frankel scores were also noted.
The paraspinal erector approach was effective for direct spinal canal decompression with minimal injury in the paraspinal muscles or spine. Significant improvements in spinal function and prognostics were achieved after the percutaneous pedicle screw fixation.
PMCID: PMC4240844  PMID: 25387608
Erector spinae; Direct spinal canal decompression; Minimally invasive spine surgery; Surgical approach; Upper lumber burst fractures
19.  Genetically Modified Mesenchymal Stem Cells Induce Mechanically Stable Posterior Spine Fusion 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;16(12):3679-3686.
Most spine fusion procedures involve the use of prosthetic fixation devices combined with autologous bone grafts rather than biological treatment. We had shown that spine fusion could be achieved by injection of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2)-expressing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into the paraspinal muscle. In this study, we hypothesized that posterior spinal fusion achieved using genetically modified MSCs would be mechanically comparable to that realized using a mechanical fixation. BMP-2-expressing MSCs were injected bilaterally into paravertebral muscles of the mouse lumbar spine. In one control group BMP-2 expression was inhibited. Microcomputed tomography and histological analyses were used to evaluate bone formation. For comparison, a group of mouse spines were bilaterally fused with stainless steel pins. The harvested spines were later tested using a custom four-point bending apparatus and structural bending stiffness was estimated. To assess the degree to which MSC vertebral fusion was targeted and to quantify the effects of fusion on adjacent spinal segments, images of the loaded spine curvature were analyzed to extract rigidity of the individual spinal segments. Bone bridging of the targeted vertebrae was observed in the BMP-2-expressing MSC group, whereas no bone formation was noted in any control group. The biomechanical tests showed that MSC-mediated spinal fusion was as effective as stainless steel pin-based fusion and significantly more rigid than the control groups. Local analysis showed that the distribution of stiffness in the MSC-based fusion group was similar to that in the steel pin fusion group, with the majority of spinal stiffness contributed by the targeted fusion at L3–L5. Our findings demonstrate that MSC-induced spinal fusion can convey biomechanical rigidity to a targeted segment that is comparable to that achieved using an instrumental fixation.
PMCID: PMC2991214  PMID: 20618082
20.  The Influence of Pain on Masseter Spindle Afferent Discharge 
Archives of oral biology  2006;52(4):387-390.
Muscle spindles provide proprioceptive feedback supporting normal patterns of motor activity and kinesthetic sensibility. During mastication, jaw muscle spindles play an important role in monitoring and regulating the chewing cycle and the bite forces generated during mastication. Both acute and chronic orofacial pain disorders are associated with changes in proprioceptive feedback and motor function. Experimental jaw muscle pain also alters the normal response of masseter spindle afferents to ramp and hold jaw movements [1]. It has been proposed that altered motor function and proprioceptive input results from group III muscle afferent modulation of the fusimotor system which alters spindle afferent sensitivity in limb muscles[2]. The response to nociceptive stimuli may enhance or reduce the response of spindle afferents to proprioceptive stimuli. Several experimental observations suggesting the possibility that a similar mechanism also functions in jaw muscles are presented in this report. First, evidence is provided to show that nociceptive stimulation of the masseter muscle primarily influences the amplitude sensitivity of spindle afferents with relatively little effect on the dynamic sensitivity [3]. Second, reversible inactivation of the caudal trigeminal nuclei attenuates the nociceptive modulation of spindle afferents. Finally, functionally identified gamma-motoneurons in the trigeminal motor nucleus are modulated by intramuscular injection with algesic substances. Taken together, these results suggest that pain-induced modulation of spindle afferent responses are mediated by small diameter muscle afferents and that this modulation is dependent, in part, on the relay of muscle nociceptive information from trigeminal subnucleus caudalis onto trigeminal gamma-motoneurons. The implication of these results will be considered in light of current theories on the relationship between jaw muscle pain and oral motor function.
PMCID: PMC1868482  PMID: 17126284
Muscle spindle afferents; Masseter muscle; Pain; Proprioception; Rats
21.  Mitochondrial DNA deletions and depletion within paraspinal muscles 
Although mitochondrial abnormalities have been reported within paraspinal muscles in patients with axial weakness and neuromuscular disease as well as with ageing, the basis of respiratory deficiency in paraspinal muscles is not known. This study aimed to determine the extent and basis of respiratory deficiency in paraspinal muscles from cases undergoing surgery for degenerative spinal disease and post mortem cases without a history of spinal disease, where age-related histopathological changes were previously reported.
Cervical and lumbar paraspinal muscles were obtained peri-operatively from 13 patients and from six post mortem control cases (age range 18–82 years) without a neurological disease. Sequential COX/SDH (mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV/complex II) histochemistry was performed to identify respiratory-deficient muscle fibres (lacking complex IV with intact complex II activity). Real-time polymerase chain reaction, long-range polymerase chain reaction and sequencing were used to identify and characterize mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions and determine mtDNA copy number status. Mitochondrial respiratory chain complex subunits were detected by immunohistochemistry.
The density of respiratory-deficient fibres increased with age. On average, 3.96% of fibres in paraspinal muscles were respiratory-deficient (range 0–10.26). Respiratory deficiency in 36.8% of paraspinal muscle fibres was due to clonally expanded mtDNA deletions. MtDNA depletion accounted for further 13.5% of respiratory deficiency. The profile of immunohistochemically detected subunits of complexes was similar in respiratory-deficient fibres with and without mtDNA deletions or mtDNA depletion.
Paraspinal muscles appeared to be particularly susceptible to age-related mitochondrial respiratory chain defects. Clonally expanded mtDNA deletions and focal mtDNA depletion may contribute towards the development of age-related postural abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC4063338  PMID: 22762368
ageing; mitochondrial DNA deletion; paraspinal muscle
22.  An Unusual Case of Systemic Inflammatory Myofibroblastic Tumor with Successful Treatment with ALK-Inhibitor 
Case Reports in Pathology  2014;2014:470340.
Systemic inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor is an exceedingly rare entity. A 45-year-old Hispanic female presented with a 6-month history of left-sided thigh pain, low back pain, and generalized weakness. PET/CT scan revealed abnormal activity in the liver, adrenal gland, and pancreas. MRI of the abdomen demonstrated two 6-7 cm masses in the liver. MRI of the lumbar spine demonstrated lesions in the L2 to L4 spinous processes, paraspinal muscles, and subcutaneous tissues, as well as an 8 mm enhancing intradural lesion at T11, all thought to be metastatic disease. A biopsy of the liver showed portal tract expansion by a spindle cell proliferation rich in inflammation. Tumor cells showed immunoreactivity for smooth muscle actin and anaplastic lymphoma kinase 1 (ALK1). Tissue from the L5 vertebra showed a process histologically identical to that seen in the liver. FISH analysis of these lesions demonstrated an ALK (2p23) gene rearrangement. The patient was successfully treated with an ALK-inhibitor, Crizotinib, and is now in complete remission. We present the first reported case, to our knowledge, of inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor with systemic manifestations and ALK translocation. This case is a prime example of how personalized medicine has vastly improved patient care through the use of molecular-targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC4087275  PMID: 25045570
23.  Symmetry of paraspinal muscle denervation in clinical lumbar spinal stenosis: Support for a hypothesis of posterior primary ramus stretching? 
Muscle & nerve  2013;48(2):198-203.
Denervation of the paraspinal muscles in spinal disorders is frequently attributed to radiculopathy. Therefore, persons with lumbar spinal stenosis causing asymmetrical symptoms should have asymmetrical paraspinal denervation.
73 persons with clinical lumbar spinal stenosis, aged 55 to 85, completed a pain drawing and underwent masked electrodiagnostic testing including bilateral paraspinal mapping and testing of 6 muscles on the most symptomatic (or randomly chosen) limb.
With the exception of 10 subjects with unilateral thigh pain (p=0.043), there was no relationship between side of pain and paraspinal mapping score for any subgroups (symmetrical pain, pain into one calf only). Among those with positive limb EMG (tested on one side), no relationship between side of pain and paraspinal EMG score was found.
The evidence suggests that paraspinal denervation in spinal stenosis may not be due to radiculopathy, but rather due to stretch or damage to the posterior primary ramus.
PMCID: PMC4147036  PMID: 23813584
Spinal stenosis; electrodiagnosis; multifidus; back pain; paraspinal mapping; segmental instability
24.  An investigation into the use of MR imaging to determine the functional cross sectional area of lumbar paraspinal muscles 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(6):764-773.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and image processing software to determine the functional cross-sectional area (FCSA) (the area of muscle isolated from fat) of the lumbar paraspinal muscles. The measurement of the morphology of the lumbar paraspinal muscles has become the focus of several recent investigations into the aetiology of low back pain. However, the reliability and validity of determining the FCSA of the lumbar paraspinal muscles using MR imaging are yet to be reported. T2 axial MR scans at the L1-S1 spinal levels of six subjects were obtained using identical MR systems and scanning parameters. Lean paraspinal muscle, vertebral body bone and intermuscular fat were manually segmented using image analysis software to assign a grey scale range to the MR signal intensity emitted by each tissue type. The resultant grey scale range for muscle was used to determine FCSA measurements for each of the paraspinal muscles, psoas, quadratus lumborum, erector spinae and lumbar multifidus on each scan slice. As various biological, instrument and measurement factors can affect MR signal intensity, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine the error associated in calculating FCSA for paraspinal muscle using a discrete grey scale range. Cross-sectional area and FCSA measurements were repeated three times and reliability indices for the FCSA measurements were obtained, showing excellent reliability, intra class correlation coefficient (mean=0.97, range 0.90–0.99) and %SEM (mean=2.6%, range 0.7–4.8%). In addition, the error associated with miscalculation of the grey scale range for the MR signal intensity of muscle was calculated and found to be low with an error of 20 grey scale units at the upper end of the muscle’s grey scale range resulting in a very small error in the measured muscle FCSA. The method presented in this paper has a variety of practical applications in areas such as evidence-based rehabilitation, biomechanical modelling and the determination of segmental inertial parameters.
PMCID: PMC3489434  PMID: 15895259
Lumbar spine; Magnetic resonance imaging; Cross sectional area; Low back pain; Muscle morphology
25.  Analysis of Factors Contributing to Postoperative Spinal Instability after Lumbar Decompression for Spinal Stenosis 
Korean Journal of Spine  2013;10(3):149-154.
Decompressive laminectomy is one of the most commonly used surgical methods for the treatment of spinal stenosis. We retrospectively examined the risk factors that induce spinal instability, including slippage (spondylolisthesis) and/or segmental angulation after decompressive laminectomy on the lumbar spine.
From January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2010, 94 consecutive patients underwent first-time single level decompressive laminectomy without fusion and discectomy. Of these 94 patients, 42 with a follow-up period of at least 2 years were selected. We measured the segmental angulation and slippage in flexion and extension dynamic lumbar radiographs. We analyzed the following contributing factors to spinal instability: age/sex, smoking history, disc space narrowing, body mass index (kg/m2), facet joint tropism, effect of the lordotic angle on lumbar spine, asymmetrical paraspinal muscle volume, and surgical method and level.
Female patients, normal lordotic angle, and asymmetrical paraspinal muscle volume were factors more significantly associated with spondylolisthesis (p-value=0.026, 0.015, <0.01). Statistical results indicated that patients with facet tropism were more likely to have segmental angulation (p-value=0.046). Facet tropism and asymmetry of paraspinal muscle volume were predisposing factors to spinal instability (p-value=0.012, <0.01).
Facet joint tropism and asymmetry of paraspinal muscle volume are the most important factors associated with spinal instability; therefore, careful follow-up after decompressive laminectomy in affected patients is necessary.
PMCID: PMC3941765  PMID: 24757477
Spinal stenosis; Facet tropism; Paraspinal muscle; Instability

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