View Full Version : Is EMG is really useful for diagnosing the recruitment pattern ofthe multifidus muscle?

02-19-2006, 04:15 PM
Here is a question for all of you who work in rehab. In rehabilitation assessments electromyography procedures (commonly known as EMGs) seem to be mainly used for diagnosis (usually to determine if a person has nerve or muscle damage due to a workplace injury). A few years ago there was some research that suggested that a surface electromyogram for back muscle endurance is also useful for assessing the efficacy of patient rehabilitation (Koumantakis et al, 2001). Is the use of EMGs for assessing the status of rehabilitation patient becoming commonplace these days or do patient assessments still rely on more traditional criteria?

Now here's another mystery; the other day I was reading a book that speculated that "software" glitches of the central nervous system can cause dysfunctional recruitment of the multifidus that causes back injuries - and mentioned in passing that this might be similar to the cause of "sleepy leg". I might be wrong (I have mislaid my notes) but I think that the author was either Jemmett or McGill. Apparently this is not generally regarded as the cause of sleepy leg - whether it is the cause of back injuries is another question.

Apparently an American company is using motion sensors and/or EMG to assess movement patterns for diagnostic purposes including FCEs and work placement recommendations. See www.biomotionlabs.com . Off the record I hear that abnormalities ofmotion patterns are really the decider.

Does anyone know if EMG is useful for diagnostic imaging of the recruitment pattern of the multifidus muscle?


David McFarlane
Ergonomist, WorkCover Authority
New South Wales, Australia

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G. Koumantakis, F. Arnall, R. Cooper, J. Oldham, (2001), "Paraspinal muscle EMG fatigue testing with two methods in healthy volunteers. Reliability in the context of clinical applications", Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2001 Mar;16 (3):263-6. The abstract is on the web at; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11240063&dopt=Abstract

Rick Jemmett, (2003), "Spinal Stabilization: The New Science of Back Pain", Rev. Edition, (Novont Health Publishing, Halifax), ISBN: 0-9688715-1-8, pages 115-123

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