The aim of the present study was to investigate differences in myoelectric responses to fatigue development between cases with chronic neck-shoulder pain (n = 10) and healthy controls (n = 10) during a low force level sustained contraction. Subjects performed a 15-min isometric shoulder elevation at a force level of 40 N (sustained contraction), preceded and followed by a step contraction, consisting of five force levels from 20 to 100 N. EMG recordings were made with a two-dimensional electrode array on the upper trapezius of the dominant side. Root-mean-square (RMSG), median power frequency (FMEDG), conduction velocity (CV), number of motor unit action potentials per second (MUAP Rate) and MUAP shape properties were estimated. Changes over time and differences between the groups were statistically evaluated with a linear mixed model. During the sustained contraction, cases showed less increase in RMSG than controls (controls: 58.5%, cases: 33.0%). FMEDG and CV decreased in controls (FMEDG: −6.3%, CV: −5.3%) and stayed constant (FMEDG) or slightly increased (CV, 3.15%) in cases. Overall, cases showed a less pronounced myoelectric response to the fatiguing task than controls, which may be related to additional recruitment of higher-threshold MUs. A possible explanation might be that cases were already (chronically) fatigued before the experiment started.
- BSS-Biomechatronics and rehabilitation technology