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Neuroscience. 2011 May 5;181:127-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.02.033. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Changes in excitability of corticomotor inputs to the trunk muscles during experimentally-induced acute low back pain.

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Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia 4072.


Acute low back pain (LBP) is associated with differential changes in motor coordination of deep and superficial trunk muscles. Whether this is related to differential changes in excitability of descending corticomotor inputs remains unclear and was investigated in nine healthy individuals. Fine-wire i.m. electrodes were inserted bilaterally into deep (transversus abdominis (TrA)) and superficial abdominal muscles (obliquus externus abdominis (OE)), and surface electrodes were placed bilaterally over obliquus internus abdominis (OI), rectus abdominis (RA) and lumbar erector spinae (LES) muscles. Corticomotor excitability was assessed as amplitude of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) at a range of stimulator intensities, at rest and during voluntary abdominal contractions. Pain was induced by injection of hypertonic saline into interspinous ligaments of the lumbar spine. Corticomotor excitability was examined before, during and after the induction of LBP. During pain, amplitude of TrA MEPs to contralateral cortical stimulation was reduced, whereas amplitudes of OE and LES MEPs contralateral and ipsilateral to the stimulated cortex were increased. The findings highlight differential changes in excitability of corticomotor inputs to trunk muscles during acute LBP. Further work is required to reveal whether such changes involve spinal and/or supraspinal centres and their consequence for spine control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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