DESIGN: Prospective clinical trial comparing sEMG output in 1 active treatment group and 2 control groups.
SETTING: Outpatient chiropractic clinic, Phoenix, AZ.
SUBJECTS: Forty subjects with low back pain (LBP) participated in the study. Twenty patients with LBP (9 females and 11 males with a mean age of 35 years and 51 years, respectively) and 20 age- and sex-matched sham-SMT/control LBP subjects (10 females and 10 males with a mean age of 40 years and 52 years, respectively) were assessed.
METHODS: Twenty consecutive patients with LBP (SMT treatment group) performed maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) isometric trunk extensions while lying prone on a treatment table. Surface, linear-enveloped sEMG was recorded from the erector spinae musculature at L3 and L5 during a trunk extension procedure. Patients were then assessed through use of the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique protocol, during which time they were treated through use of MFMA SMT. The MFMA SMT treatment was followed by a dynamic stiffness and algometry assessment, after which a second or post-MVC isometric trunk extension and sEMG assessment were performed. Another 20 consecutive subjects with LBP were assigned to one of two other groups, a sham-SMT group and a control group. The sham-SMT group underwent the same experimental protocol with the exception that the subjects received a sham-MFMA SMT and dynamic stiffness assessment. The control group subjects received no SMT treatment, stiffness assessment, or algometry assessment intervention. Within-group analysis of MVC sEMG output (pre-SMT vs post-SMT sEMG output) and across-group analysis of MVC sEMG output ratio (post-SMT sEMG/pre-SMT sEMG output) during MVC was performed through use of a paired observations t test (POTT) and a robust analysis of variance (RANOVA), respectively.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Surface, linear-enveloped EMG recordings during isometric MVC trunk extension were used as the primary outcome measure.
RESULTS: Nineteen of the 20 patients in the SMT treatment group showed a positive increase in sEMG output during MVC (range, -9.7% to 66.8%) after the active MFMA SMT treatment and stiffness assessment. The SMT treatment group showed a significant (POTT, P < 0.001) increase in erector spinae muscle sEMG output (21% increase in comparison with pre-SMT levels) during MVC isometric trunk extension trials. There were no significant changes in pre-SMT vs post-SMT MVC sEMG output for the sham-SMT (5.8% increase) and control (3.9% increase) groups. Moreover, the sEMG output ratio of the SMT treatment group was significantly greater (robust analysis of variance, P = 0.05) than either that of the sham-SMT group or that of the control group.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this preliminary clinical trial demonstrated that MFMA SMT results in a significant increase in sEMG erector spinae isometric MVC muscle output. These findings indicate that altered muscle function may be a potential short-term therapeutic effect of MFMA SMT, and they form a basis for a randomized, controlled clinical trial to further investigate acute and long-term changes in low back function.
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