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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 May;88(5):1698-706.

Possible mechanisms of muscle cramp from temporal and spatial surface EMG characteristics.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Hospital, NL-6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands. karin.roeleveld@svt.ntu.no

Abstract

In this study, the initiation and development of muscle cramp are investigated. For this, we used a 64-channel surface electromyogram (EMG) to study the triceps surae muscle during both cramp and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in four cramp-prone subjects and during cramp only in another four cramp-prone subjects. The results show that cramp presents itself as a contraction of a slowly moving fraction of muscle fibers, indicating that either the spatial arrangement of the motoneurons and muscle fibers is highly related or that cramp spreads at a level close to the muscle. Spectral analyses of the EMG and peak-triggered average potentials show the presence of extremely short potentials during cramp compared with during MVC. These results can also be interpreted in two ways. Either the motoneurons fire with enlarged synchronization during MVC compared with cramp, or smaller units than motor units are active, indicating that cramp is initiated close to or even at the muscle fiber level. Further research is needed to draw final conclusions.

PMID:
10797132
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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