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Open Access Research article

Short term modulation of trunk neuromuscular responses following spinal manipulation: a control group study

Marie-Pierre Harvey1 and Martin Descarreaux2*

Author Affiliations

1 Département des sciences de l’activité physique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, G9A 5H7, Canada

2 Département de chiropratique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, G9A 5H7, Canada

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:92  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-92

Published: 13 March 2013

Abstract

Background

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).

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

Keywords:
Spinal manipulation; Electromyography; Kinematics; Flexion-relaxation phenomenon