Effects of low-load repetitive work and mental load on sensitising substances and metabolism in the trapezius muscle
Abstract: Low-load repetitive work (LLRW) and mental load are important risk factors for the development of workrelated muscle pain. The link between these risk factors and the development of pain is still not understood, but stimulation of chemo-sensitive receptors in the muscle probably plays an important role. It has been suggested that sensitising substances may accumulate in the muscle during LLRW, especially when combined with mental load.The overall purpose of this thesis was to try to shed some light on the effects of LLRW on the concentration of sensitising substances (glutamate, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), norepinephrine (NE)) and on metabolism (lactate, pyruvate and oxygenation) in the trapezius muscle of healthy controls (CON) and subjects with trapezius myalgia (TM).A first step was to investigate whether females with TM exhibit higher absolute concentrations of glutamate and PGE2 in the affected muscle during rest. Using Microdialysis (MD) females with TM and asymptomatic controls were studied during four hours of rest. [Glutamate] and [PGE2] during rest did not differ between groups.A second step was to investigate, in a simulated occupational setting, the effects of LLRW on the concentration of sensitising substances and metabolism in the trapezius muscle of TM and CON, and whether increased work duration resulted in a progressive effect. Asymptomatic females were studied during baseline rest, 30 versus 60 min work and recovery, using MD and near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Subjects with TM were studied during baseline rest, 30 min work and recovery. [Glutamate] and [lactate] increased in response to work, but not progressively with increased work duration. [Glutamate] was at all time points significantly lower in TM. [PGE2]and oxygenation remained unchanged during work for CON, while for TM oxygenation decreased significantly during work. In TM [pyruvate] increased during both work and recovery, and a significant interaction between groups was found for [pyruvate] during recovery; while moderately increased in CON it increased progressively in TM.The effects of LLRW with and without superimposed mental load on intramuscular [NE], muscle activity and oxygen saturation in the trapezius were also investigated and compared. Using MD, electromyography and NIRS, healthy females were studied on two occasions; during 30 min LLRW and during 30 min LLRW with superimposed mental load. During work [NE], and muscle activity, were increased, while oxygenation decreased, but no differences between occasions. However, recovery of [NE] to baseline was slower after LLRW with superimposed mental load. The findings of the present thesis suggest: (i) no inflammation, or increased interstitial [glutamate] in TM; (ii) LLRW causes an increased anaerobic metabolism in both TM and CON; (iii) no effect of work duration was found; (iv) a significant difference in the effects of LLRW on the interstitial milieu of the trapezius muscle in TM as compared to CON; (v) LLRW causes a significant increase in [NE], but superimposed mental load does not cause a further increase; (vi) LLRW with a superimposed mental load may result in a slower recovery to baseline [NE] as compared with LLRW alone.
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