Adaptations of upper trapezius muscle activity during sustained contractions in women with fibromyalgia

Deborah Falla, Helle Andersen, Bente Danneskiold-Samsøe, Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Dario Farina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The study compared the distribution of electromyographic (EMG) signal amplitude in the upper trapezius muscle in 10 women with fibromyalgia and in 10 healthy women before and after experimentally-induced muscle pain. Surface EMG signals were recorded over the right upper trapezius muscle with a 10 x 5 grid of electrodes during 90 degrees shoulder abduction sustained for 60s. The control subjects repeated the abduction task following injections of isotonic and hypertonic (painful) saline into the upper trapezius muscle. The EMG amplitude was computed for each electrode pair and provided a topographical map of the distribution of muscle activity. The pain level rated by the patients at the beginning of the sustained contraction was 5.9+/-1.5. The peak pain intensity for the control group following the injection of hypertonic saline was 6.0+/-1.6. During the sustained contractions, the EMG amplitude increased relatively more in the cranial than caudal region of the upper trapezius muscle for the control subjects (shift in the distribution of EMG amplitude: 2.3+/-1.3mm; P<0.01). The patient group showed lower average EMG amplitude than the controls during the contraction (P<0.05) and did not show different changes in EMG amplitude between different regions of the upper trapezius. A similar behavior was observed for the control group following injection of hypertonic saline. The results indicate that muscle pain prevents the adaptation of upper trapezius activity during sustained contractions as observed in non-painful conditions, which may induce overuse of similar muscle compartments with fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-64
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of electromyography and kinesiology : official journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Pain
  • Physical Endurance
  • Shoulder Joint
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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