Foci of segmentally contracted sarcomeres in trapezius muscle biopsy specimens in myalgic and nonmyalgic human subjects: Preliminary results

Robert D. Gerwin, Barbara Cagnie, Mirko Petrovic, Jo VanDorpe, Patrick Calders, Kayleigh De Meulemeester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective. The myofascial trigger point hypothesis postulates that there are small foci of contracted sarcomeres in resting skeletal muscle. Only one example, in canine muscle, has been published previously. This study evaluated human muscle biopsies for foci of contracted sarcomeres. Setting. The Departments of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy at Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Subjects. Biopsies from 28 women with or without trapezius myalgia were evaluated, 14 in each group. Methods. Muscle biopsies were obtained from regions of taut bands in the trapezius muscle and processed for light and electron microscopy and for histochemical analysis. Examination of the biopsies was blinded as to group. Results. A small number of foci of segmentally contracted sarcomeres were identified. One fusiform segmental locus involved the entire muscle fiber in tissue from a myalgic subject. Several transition zones from normal to contracted sarcomeres were found in both myalgic and nonmyalgic subjects. The distance between Z-lines in contracted sarcomeres was about 25-45% of the same distance in normal sarcomeres. Z-lines were disrupted and smeared in the contracted sarcomeres. Conclusions. A small number of foci of segmentally contracted sarcomeres were found in relaxed trapezius muscle in human subjects, a confirmation of the only other example of spontaneous segmental contraction of sarcomeres (in a canine muscle specimen), consistent with the hypothesis of trigger point formation and with the presence of trigger point end plate noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2348-2356
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Volume21
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Muscle Biopsy
  • Myofascial Trigger Points
  • Segmental Sarcomere Contraction
  • Taut Bands
  • Trigger Point Hypothesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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