Reorganized Force Control in Elbow Pain Patients During Isometric Wrist Extension

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Introduction:Reorganized force control may be an important adaptation following painful traumas. In this study, force control adaptations were assessed in elbow pain patients. Increasing the contraction demand may overcome pain interference on the motor control and as such act as an internal control. It was hypothesized that elbow pain patients compared with controls would present greater change in the direction of force when increasing the demand of the motor task.Methods:Elbow pain patients (n=19) and asymptomatic participants (n=21) performed isometric wrist extensions at 5% to 70% of maximum voluntary contraction. Pressure pain thresholds were recorded at the lateral epicondyle and tibialis anterior muscle. Contraction force was recorded using a 3-directional force transducer. Participants performed contractions according to visual feedback of the task-related force intensity (main direction of wrist extension) and another set of contractions with feedback of the 3 force directions. Going from the simple to the detailed force feedback will increase the demand of the motor task. Force steadiness in all 3 dimensions and force directions were extracted.Results:Compared with controls, elbow pain patients presented lower pressure pain thresholds at both sites (P<0.05). Force steadiness was not significantly different between groups or feedback methods. The change in force direction when providing simple visual feedback in contrast with feedback of all force components at all contraction levels was greater for patients compared with controls (P<0.05).Conclusion:The larger change in force direction in pain patients implies redistribution of loads across the arm as an associated effect of pain.

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