Rapid muscle activation and force capacity in conditions of chronic musculoskeletal pain

Tidsskriftartikel - 2008

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Background: The association between musculoskeletal pain and decreased maximal muscle strength capacity has been extensively studied, but knowledge about functional rapid force capacity in conditions of chronic musculoskeletal pain is lacking. The objective of this study is to investigate rapid muscle activation and force capacity of chronically painful muscles.Methods:Cross-sectional study with 42 women with chronic trapezius myalgia, and 20 healthy matched controls. Maximal capacity was determined as peak torque and peak EMG amplitude of the painful trapezius and painfree deltoid muscles during the stable high-force phase of maximal voluntary shoulder abduction, whereas rapid capacity was determined as the steepest slope of the torque-time and EMG-time curves, defined as rate of torque development and rate of EMG rise. Intensity of pain was registered prior to the test on a visual-analogue-scale.Findings:Peak torque was 18% lower at 115° shoulder joint angle in women with myalgia compared with healthy controls (P <0.001), with a corresponding 29% lower level of peak EMG specifically of the painful trapezius muscle (P <0.001). Rate of torque development was 33-54% lower (P <0.001), with a corresponding 21-35% lower level of rate of EMG rise of both the painful trapezius and painfree deltoid (P <0.0001). Intensity of pain showed higher association with parameters of rapid capacity (R = -0.33 to -0.53, P <0.001-0.05) than with maximal capacity (R = -0.15 to -0.41, P <0.01-ns).Interpretation:In conditions of chronic musculoskeletal pain, the ability to rapidly activate painful and painfree synergistic muscles is more severely impaired than maximal muscle activation. These findings have clinical relevance for rehabilitation of chronically painful muscles.

Reference

Andersen LL, Holtermann A, Jørgensen MB, Sjøgaard G. Rapid muscle activation and force capacity in conditions of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Clinical Biomechanics 2008;23(10):1237-1242.
doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2008.08.002

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