A preliminary study on electromyographic analysis of the paraspinal musculature in idiopathic scoliosis

J. Cheung, J.P. Halbertsma, A.G. Veldhuizen, W.J. Sluiter, N.M. Maurits, J.C. Cool, J.R. van Horn

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The paraspinal muscles have been implicated as a major causative factor in the progression of idiopathic scoliosis. Therefore, the objectives of this preliminary study were to measure the electromyographic activity (EMG) of the paraspinal muscles to determine its relationship to progression of the scoliotic curve. Idiopathic scoliotic patients were selected and identified afterwards on curve progression. The EMG activity on both sides of the spine was measured in a set of standardized postures using bipolar surface electrodes at the apex and two end vertebrae of the scoliotic curve. An EMG ratio involving measurements of the EMG activity on the convex and concave sides of the scoliotic curve was used to evaluate the paraspinal muscles. Enhanced EMG ratios at the apex of the scoliotic curve were found in both groups during sitting and standing. The most interesting finding was that children with progression of the curve also showed enhanced EMG ratios at the lower end vertebra of the curve. The EMG ratios between the groups were significantly different from each other at the apex and end vertebrae for several test conditions. Overlap in the EMG-ratio ranges made differentiation difficult for prediction of the progression of the individual scoliosis patient. However, the EMG ratio at the lower end vertebra of the scoliotic curve is significantly higher than 1 in all test conditions in the group of children with subsequent progression of the curve, whereas it is always normal in the non-progressive group. Therefore, EMG of the paraspinal muscles might be of value for prediction of progression in idiopathic scoliosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2005


  • spine
  • scoliosis
  • progression
  • electromyography
  • asymmetry

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