METHODS: Autonomic cardiovascular modulation, baroreceptor sensitivity, skin conductance, and peripheral skin temperature were obtained in 6 subjects with acute musculoskeletal injury and 6 age- and sex-matched controls. Power spectral analysis was performed on both beat-to-beat R-R intervals and continuous systolic blood pressure (SBP) peaks. Baroreceptor sensitivity was derived using both heart rate and blood pressure spectral analysis components.
RESULTS: The SD of R-R intervals was significantly different for the acute injury group relative to controls (49.8 +/- 10.5 vs 76.8 +/- 12.7 ms; P < .01). Continuous SBP peaks and skin conductance (sympathetic vasomotor and sudomotor indices, respectively) were significantly higher (59.6 +/- 6.7 vs 23.8 +/- 6.4 mm Hg2 /Hz, and 3.87 +/- 1.04 vs 2.19 +/- 0.3 mhos; P < .01, respectively) and baroreceptor sensitivity lower (0.97 +/- 0.07 vs 1.10 +/- 0.08 mm Hg; P < .02) in the acute injury group compared with controls. Regression analysis revealed a significant relationship between skin conductance and continuous SBP peaks (r = 0.75; P < .01).
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that interaction between cutaneous and vasomotor sympathetic neurons in response to acute musculoskeletal injury, reflected as increased afferent input from sensitized nociceptors and other sensory neurons, results in alterations in autonomic function.
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