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Intramuscular electromyography (EMG) is commonly used to quantify activity in the trunk musculature. However, it is unclear if the discomfort or fear of pain associated with insertion of intramuscular EMG electrodes results in altered motor behavior. This study examined whether intramuscular EMG affects locomotor speed and trunk motion, and examined the anticipated and actual pain associated with electrode insertion in healthy individuals and individuals with a history of low back pain (LBP). Before and after insertion of intramuscular electrodes into the lumbar and thoracic paraspinals, participants performed multiple repetitions of a walking turn at self-selected and controlled average speed. Low levels of anticipated and actual pain were reported in both groups. Self-selected locomotor speed was significantly increased following insertion of the electrodes. At the controlled speed, the amplitude of sagittal plane lumbo-pelvic motion decreased significantly post-insertion, but the extent of this change was the same in both groups. Lumbo-pelvic motion in the frontal and axial planes and thoraco-lumbar motion in all planes were not affected by the insertions. This study demonstrates that intramuscular EMG is an appropriate methodology to selectively quantify the activation patterns of the individual muscles in the paraspinal group, both in healthy individuals and individuals with a history of LBP.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, volume 25, issue 3, in 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2015.01.003

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