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Experimental muscle pain of the vastus medialis reduces knee joint extensor torque and alters quadriceps muscle contributions as revealed through musculoskeletal modeling

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BACKGROUND: Voluntary activation deficit of the quadriceps muscle group is a common symptom in populations with knee joint injury. Musculoskeletal modeling and simulations can improve our understanding of pathological conditions; however, they are mathematically complex which can limit their clinical application. A practical subject-specific modeling framework is introduced to evaluate knee extensor inhibition and muscle force contributions to isometric knee joint torques in healthy adults with and without experimentally induced quadriceps muscle pain.

METHODS: A randomized cross-over placebo controlled study design was used. Subject-specific maximum knee joint extension torque and quadriceps electromyographic data from 13 uninjured young adults were combined in a modeling framework to determine optimal muscle strength scaling parameters and ideal torque. Strength deficit ratios (experimental torque/ideal torque) and individual muscle contribution to experimental torque was computed before and after intramuscular hypertonic (pain inducing) and isotonic (sham) saline was injected to the vastus medialis.

FINDINGS: Decreased experimental knee extension torque (-8%) and vastus medialis electromyography (-26%) amplitude pre- to post- hypertonic injection was observed. Correspondingly, significant decreases in the knee extensor strength deficit ratio (-18%) and percent contribution of vastus medialis to experimental torque (-24%) was observed pre- to post- hypertonic injection. No differences were observed with isotonic injections, confirming the validity of the model.

INTERPRETATION: Our practical method to estimate strength ratios can be easily implemented within a musculoskeletal modeling framework to improve the validity of model estimates. This, in turn, can increase our understanding of the relationship between neuromuscular deficits and functional outcomes in patient populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

ID: 58972865