Insertion and Presence of Fine-Wire Intramuscular Electrodes to the Lumbar Paraspinal Muscles Do Not Affect Muscle Performance and Activation During High-Exertion Spinal Extension Activities

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Background Low back pain (LBP) is commonly associated with paraspinal muscle dysfunctions. A method to study deep lumbar paraspinal (ie, multifidus) muscle function and neuromuscular activation pattern is intramuscular electromyography (EMG). Previous studies have shown that the procedure does not significantly impact muscle function during activities involving low-level muscle contractions. However, it is currently unknown how muscular function and activation are affected during high-exertion contractions. Objective To examine the effects of insertion and presence of fine-wire EMGelectrodes in the lumbar multifidus on muscle strength, endurance, and activation profiles during high-exertion spinal extension muscle contractions. Design Single-blinded, repeated measures intervention trial. Setting University clinical research laboratory Participants Twenty individuals between the ages of 18-40 free of recent and current back pain. Methods Muscle performance was assessed during 3 conditions (with [WI] and without [WO] presence of intramuscular electrodes, and insertion followed by removal [IO]). Isometric spinal extension strength was assessed with a motorized dynamometer. Muscle endurance was assessed using the Sorensen test with neuromuscular activation profiles analyzed during the endurance test. Main Outcome Measurements Spinal extensor muscle strength, endurance, and activation. Results Our data showed no significant difference in isometric strength (P = .20) between the 3 conditions. A significant difference in muscle endurance was found (P = .03). Post hoc analysis showed that the muscle endurance in the IO condition was significantly higher than the WO condition (161.3 ± 58.3 versus 142.1 ± 48.2 seconds, P = .04), likely due to a learning effect. All 3 conditions elicited minimal pain (range 0-4/10) and comparable muscle activation profiles. Conclusion Our findings suggested the sonographically guided insertion and presence of fine-wire intramuscular EMG electrodes in the lumbar multifidus muscles had no significant impact on spinal extension muscle function. This study provides evidence that implementing intramuscular EMG does not affect muscle performance during high-exertion contractions in individuals with no current back pain. Level of Evidence II


Physical Therapy



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