Muscle fiber conduction velocity of the upper trapezius muscle during dynamic contraction of the upper limb in patients with chronic neck pain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Division of Physiotherapy, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.


The purpose of this study was to compare average muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV) and its changes over time in the upper trapezius muscle during a repetitive upper limb task in people with chronic neck pain and in healthy controls. Surface EMG signals were detected bilaterally from the upper trapezius muscle of 19 patients and nine healthy controls using linear adhesive arrays of four electrodes. Subjects were asked to tap their hands in a cyclic manner between targets positioned mid-thigh and 120 degrees of shoulder flexion, to the beat of a metronome set at 88 beats/min for up to 5 min. Muscle fiber CV and instantaneous mean power spectral frequency were estimated for each cycle at the time instant corresponding to 90 degrees of shoulder flexion. Average muscle fiber CV of the upper trapezius muscle was higher in people with chronic neck pain (mean+/-SE, 4.8+/-0.1m/s) than in control subjects (4.4+/-0.1 m/s; P<0.05). Furthermore, the exercise-induced decrease in CV over time was enhanced in the patient group (P<0.05). It was concluded that membrane muscle fiber properties of the upper trapezius and their changes over time during dynamic contraction of the upper limb are different in a sample of people with chronic neck pain with respect to controls. This may be associated with the histological and morphological changes, which have previously been identified in people with pain over the trapezius muscle.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-45
Number of pages8
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Adult, Analysis of Variance, Chronic Disease, Electromyography, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Middle Aged, Muscle Contraction, Muscle Fatigue, Muscle Fibers, Skeletal, Neck Pain, Neural Conduction, Pain Measurement, Time Factors, Upper Extremity, Comparative Study, Journal Article