Muscular dysfunction elicited by creep of lumbar viscoelastic tissue

M. Solomonow, R. V. Baratta, B. H. Zhou, E. Burger, A. Zieske, A. Gedalia

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146 Scopus citations


The biomechanics, histology and electromyography of the lumbar viscoelastic tissues and multifidus muscles of the in vivo feline were investigated during 20 min of static as well as cyclic flexion under load control and during 7 h of rest following the flexion. It was shown that the creep developed in the viscoelastic tissues during the 20 min of static or cyclic flexion did not fully recover over the 7 h of following rest. It was further seen that a neuromuscular disorder with five distinct components developed during and after the static and cyclic flexion. The neuromuscular disorder consisted of a decreasing magnitude of reflexive EMG from the multifidus upon flexion as well as of superimposed spasms. The recovery period was characterized by an initial muscle hyperexcitability, a slowly increasing reflexive EMG and a delayed hyperexcitability. Histological data from the supraspinous ligament demonstrate significant increase (× 10) in neutrophil density in the ligament 2 h into the recovery and even larger increase (×100) 6 h into the recovery from the 20 min flexion, indicating an acute soft tissue inflammation. It was concluded that sustained static or cyclic loading of lumbar viscoelastic tissues may cause micro-damage in the collagen structure, which in turn reflexively elicit spasms in the multifidus as well as hyperexcitability early in the recovery when the majority of the creep recovers. The micro-damage, however, results in the time dependent development of inflammation. In all cases, the spasms, initial and delayed hyperexcitabilities represent increased muscular forces applied across the intervertebral joints in an attempt to limit the range of motion and unload the viscoelastic tissues in order to prevent further damage and to promote healing. It is suggested that a significant insight is gained as to the development and implications of a common idiopathic low back disorder as well as to the development of cumulative trauma disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-396
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Biophysics
  • Clinical Neurology


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