Rehabilitative ultrasound measurement of select trunk muscle activation during induced pain

Kyle B. Kiesel, Tim Uhl, Frank B. Underwood, Arthur J. Nitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Rehabilitative ultrasound imaging (RUSI) is considered a valid method to measure muscle activation in key spinal muscles in asymptomatic subjects. Research measuring muscle activation with RUSI in painful subjects is limited. The aim of this study was to determine if changes in muscle activation from experimentally induced pain can be measured by RUSI. Six male subjects performed tasks known to activate the transverse abdominis (TrA) and lumbar multifidus (LM) while RUSI measurements of muscle thickness were obtained during control and hypertonic saline conditions. The abdominal draw-in maneuver was used to volitionally activate the TrA and a series of upper extremity lifting tasks were used to automatically activate the LM. Pain was induced by injecting 5% hypertonic saline into the longissimus muscle adjacent to the LM at the L4 level. The percent change in muscle thickness from rest to contraction represented muscle activation. Activation was significantly less (p<0.01) during the painful condition on 4 of the 5 tasks performed for the LM and on the task performed for the TrA. These results indicate that RUSI can be used to measure pain-related changes in deep trunk muscle activation. Future research should include a larger sample size and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-138
Number of pages7
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Lumbar multifidus
  • Rehabilitative ultrasound imaging
  • Transverse abdominis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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