Mechanical neck disorder is a widespread and non-neurological musculoskeletal condition resulting from modern lifestyles. Presently, the fundamental electrophysiological properties of the motor units of the sternocleidomastoid muscles and the characteristics of the shortterm synchronization of the motor unit in patients with neck pain are ambiguous. This study therefore aims to clarify the fundamental electrophysiological properties of the motor units of the sternocleidomastoid muscles in patients with mechanical neck disorder and in asymptomatic individuals. We further investigated whether alterations in the degree of motor unit short-term synchronization occur. The surface electrophysiological signals of the bilateral sternal heads of the sternocleidomastoid muscles of twelve patients with mechanical neck disorder and asymptomatic individuals were detected at 25% of the maximum voluntary contraction during cervical isometric flexion and then decomposed into individual motor unit action potential trains. We found that the patients with mechanical neck disorder showed significantly higher initial and mean firing rates of the sternocleidomastoid muscles and displayed substantially lower motor unit short-term synchronization values compared with the asymptomatic subjects. Consequently, these convincing findings support the assertion that patients with mechanical neck disorder display altered neuromuscular control strategies, such as the reinforcement of motor unit recruitment firing rates in the sternocleidomastoid muscles. The motor units of these patients also revealed neural recruitment strategies with relatively poor efficiency when executing the required motor tasks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)