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Neuromuscular disorder in response to anterior cruciate ligament creep.

Chu-D; LeBlanc-R; D'Ambrosia-P; D'Ambrosia-R; Baratta-RV; Solomonow-M
Clin Biomech 2003 Mar; 18(3):222-230
To determine the effect of creep developed in the anterior cruciate ligament and other viscoelastic knee structures on the function of the flexor and extensor muscles of males and females. Static load applied to the proximal tibia of young healthy male and female subjects in a laboratory setting with maximal voluntary knee flexion and extension performed before and after the load application. Static loads applied to various joints during occupational and sports activities are epidemiologically linked to higher than normal rates of disability reports. The physiological and biomechanical processes active in the development of such a neuromuscular disorder are not known. We hypothesize that creep developed in the anterior cruciate ligament due to prolonged static load will have pronounced impact on the reflexive activation of the associated musculature in a manner that may increase the risk of injury. Females are expected to be exposed to higher risk than males. Male and female groups performed maximal voluntary knee flexion and extension before and after applying 200 and 150 N, respectively, to the proximal tibia for a 10 min period. Flexion and extension forces as well as electromyograph from agonist and antagonist muscles were measured at 35 degrees and 90 degrees knee flexion. Data was analyzed through repeated measures of analysis of variance. It was found that in extension, quadriceps electromyographic activity increased significantly after anterior cruciate ligament creep while hamstrings co-activation did not change. There was also a trend towards increased extension force after creep was developed, with significant effect of gender (larger increase in females). Similarly, significant increase in hamstrings electromyographic activity and a trend towards increased force during knee flexion was observed but with no effect of gender. Electromyographic spasms from the flexors and extensors were recorded in 30% of the subjects during the 10 min static loading period at 90 degrees angle and from the flexors only at 35 degrees. Creep in the ligament was marginally greater in females than in males with a significant effect of angle, being greater at 35 degrees than in 90 degrees knee flexion. The results suggest that ligament creep may develop a neuromuscular disorder consisting of spasms, increased electromyography and force in the agonist muscles without compensation from the antagonist. Static loading of a joint, therefore, may develop a neuromuscular disorder compounded with laxity of the ligaments and subject the individual to increased risk of injury. The data provides evidence that prolonged static loads applied to the anterior cruciate ligament and associated viscoelastic structures results in unbalanced muscular activation which puts individuals at increased exposure to injury. Work and sports activities should be scheduled while minimizing periods of static joint loading and emphasizing sufficient rest periods to allow recovery of creep and return to balanced muscular activation and co-activation.
Neuromuscular-system-disorders; Neuromuscular-system; Neuromuscular-function; Muscular-disorders; Muscles; Knee-disorders; Knee-injuries; Demographic-characteristics; Sex-factors; Laboratory-testing; Epidemiology; Sports-injuries; Injuries; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors
Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Occupational Medicine Research Center, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 2025 Gravier Street, Suite 400, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
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Journal Article
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Disease and Injury: Low Back Disorders
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Clinical Biomechanics
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Louisiana State University, Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana