Response of lumbar paraspinal muscles spindles is greater to spinal manipulative loading compared with slower loading under length control

Joel G. Pickar, Paul S. Sung, Yu-Ming Kang and Weiqing Ge 

This article describes a neurophysiological study of spinal manipulation using the lumbar spine of a feline model.  Impulse thrusts (duration: 12.5, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400 ms; amplitude 1 or 2 mm posterior to anterior) were applied to the spinous process of the L6 vertebra of deeply anesthetized cats while recording single unit activity from dorsal root filaments of muscle spindle afferents innervating the lumbar paraspinal muscles. A feedback motor was used in displacement control mode to deliver the impulse thrusts. The results showed that as thrust duration became shorter, the discharge of the lumbar paraspinal muscle spindles increased in a curvilinear fashion. This pattern was evident in paraspinal afferents with receptive fields both close and far from the midline. Paradoxically, spindle afferents were almost twice as sensitive to the 1-mm compared with the 2-mm amplitude thrust. This latter finding may be related to the small versus large signal range properties of muscle spindles.  The authors conclude that the duration and amplitude of a spinal manipulation elicit a pattern of discharge from paraspinal muscle spindles different from slower mechanical inputs. Clinically, these parameters may be important determinants of an HVLA-SM's therapeutic benefit.

The Spine Journal, 2007, 7(5), 583-595

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