Back muscle fatigue of younger and older adults with and without chronic low back pain using two protocols: A case-control study.

The purpose of this study was to compare back muscle fatigue of younger and older participants with and without chronic low back pain (CLBP). Twenty participants without and 20 with nonspecific CLBP participated in this study. Each group contained 10 younger (50% males; mean age: 31±6yrs) and 10 older adults (50% males; age mean: 71±7yrs). Two isometric fatigue protocols were presented randomly: (1) to maintain the unsupported trunk at the horizontal position while on a 45° Roman chair for a minute, and (2) to maintain a 10% of body weight box close to the trunk in the upright position for a minute. Surface electromyography (EMG) signals from the back (multifidus and iliocostalis) and one hip (biceps femoris) muscles were recorded bilaterally, and the median frequency fatigue estimate from linear regression slopes of the EMG time-series was computed. There were no significant (P>0.05) age effects, and group-by-age interaction in both isometric and functional fatigue tasks. However, the CLBP groups (both younger and old) displayed more back fatigue than people without CLBP in both fatigue protocols (P<0.01; effect size varying of d=0.17-0.32). This study was sensitive to discriminate that individuals with CLBP did present significantly more pronounced EMG back fatigue than people without CLBP, in both younger and older adults. These results have significant clinical implications for low back pain rehabilitation programs with regard to endurance assessment in both younger and older.