The prevalence of work-related muscle pain (WRMP) is large in the general population in the industrialized world. Despite significant advances over recent years in some research areas, the mechanisms of why WRMP occurs and the pathophysiological mechanisms behind the disorders are still unclear. One suggested explanation is that WRMP is caused initially by a limitation of the local muscle circulation and oxidative metabolism. There is a lack of objective methods to gauge the development and diagnosis of WRMP.
Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a non-invasive technique that allows for determinations of oxygenation and blood flow. The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate NIRS (1) as a method for measuring muscle oxygenation and hemodynamics for the extensor carpi radialis (ECR) and trapezius descendens muscles (TD), and (2) to investigate whether variables measured by NIRS differed between patients diagnosed with WRMP and healthy subjects.
Several variables of NIRS were produced and investigated. These included muscle oxygenation (StO2%), changes during contractions (ΔStO2%) and StO2% recovery (Rslope), total hemoglobin (HbT) as an indication of blood volume and its changes during contractions (ΔHbT). In addition, for the ECR, by applying an upper arm venous occlusion (VO) HbTslope increase as a surrogate of blood flow, and for both VO and arterial occlusion (AO) HHbslope increase (i.e. deoxyhemoglobin slope) as a surrogate of oxygen consumption were variables of interest.
A first objective was to determine how StO2% and HbT responded to various contraction forces and how it related to muscle activation measured by electromyography (EMG). For both muscles isometric contractions of 10, 30, 50 and 70% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) were maintained for 20 s each by healthy males and females; additionally a 10% MVC contraction was sustained for 5 min. For the different contraction levels, predictable relationships were seen between ΔStO2% and force, and between ΔStO2% and EMG RMS amplitude. The general trend was a decrease in ΔStO2% with increasing force and increasing EMG. Females showed a tendency for a higher oxygen use (i.e., drop in StO2%) for the ECR over force levels than males and a higher RMS% MVC for the TD. For the 10% MVC contraction sustained for 5 min gender specific changes over time for HbT and RMS for the ECR, and for StO2% for the TD muscle were seen.
A second objective was to determine the day-to-day reliability of NIRS variables for the ECR and TD muscles at group level (Pooled data) and at gender level (males and females). Measurements were performed on two occasions separated by 4-6 days and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) and limits of agreement (LOA) were determined as reliability and reproducibility indicators, respectively. Variables tested were ΔStO2% during submaximal isometric contractions of 10, 30, 50 and 70% MVC and StO2% recovery (Rslope) after contractions and after AO. For the ECR, HbTslope as an indication of blood flow (using VO) and HHbslope as a surrogate of oxygen consumption for both VO and AO were computed. For ΔStO2% for the ECR the highest ICC was at 30% MVC for both the pooled data and at gender level. For the TD ICCs were comparably high for 30, 50, 70 % MVC (for both muscles the ΔStO2% at 10% MVC showed the lowest ICC). Further, females showed a higher ICC than males for contraction levels of 50 and 70% MVC. For both muscles, LOA for ΔStO2% was lowest at 10% and highest at 50 and 70% MVC. For the ECR Rslope ICCs were high for all contraction levels, but was lower for AO; LOA was lowest at 70% MVC. For the TD, Rslope ICCs were also high for all contraction levels and LOA was lowest at 30 % MVC. ICC for HbTslope was the lowest of all variables tested. For HHbslope ICC was higher for AO than for VO, and LOA was lower for AO.
A third objective was to determine if there were differences between healthy subjects and patients diagnosed with WRMP in ΔStO2% and ΔHbT responses during varying submaximal contractions (10, 30, 50 and 70% MVC), and StO2% recovery (Rslope) immediately after contractions and AO. Additional variables tested in the ECR at rest were HHbslope to indicate oxygen consumption (using AO) and HbTslope as an indication of blood flow. There were no differences between groups in ΔStO2% and ΔHbT variables during the contractions or Rslope in the recovery after contractions or AO. Furthermore, HbTslope was not different between groups However, oxygen consumption for the ECR and StO2% for the TD at rest were significantly greater for healthy subjects compared to patients.
A fourth objective was to determine if there were differences in StO2% and HbT between healthy subjects and WRMP patients during a 12 min sustained contraction of 15 % MVC. In addition, the protocol included a recovery period of 30 min. Prior to contraction, as well as during the recovery period, HbTslope as a surrogate of blood flow was determined for the ECR. Neither the ECR nor the TD exhibited significant differences between groups for StO2% and HbT during the contraction. For the TD patients showed a lower StO2% value at rest and throughout the contraction than healthy subjects. For the ECR HbT during the sustained contraction the general trend was an initial decrease with gradual increase throughout the contraction for both groups. For HbTslope no differences were seen between patients and healthy subjects before the sustained contraction and during the recovery period for both muscles.
NIRS is deemed a suitable technique for assessing physiological measurements of the upper extremity, including for day-to-day testing.
NIRS was not able to distinguish between the patients with WRMP and controls. A concern in the thesis is the characteristics of the patient group in being equally active in recreational sports, actively working, and similar in muscle strength as controls. Thus, applying NIRS for studying a more severe patient group could yield different results.
Umeå: Umeå University , 2012. , 57 p.
Near infrared spectroscopy, muscle oxygenation, hemodynamics, electromyography, extensor carpi radialis, trapezius
2013-01-24, Sal 135, byggnad 9A, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (English)