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MDPI, Diagnostics, 9(11), p. 1662, 2021

DOI: 10.3390/diagnostics11091662



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Mechanical Properties of Lumbar and Cervical Paravertebral Muscles in Patients with Axial Spondyloarthritis: A Case-Control Study

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Background: Axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) affects spinal muscles, due to inflammation and structural damage. The mechanical properties of the muscles, such as tone or stiffness, could be altered in axSpA. The aim of this work is to analyze the mechanical properties of cervical and lumbar spine muscles in axSpA patients and their relationship with metrology measures, function, disease activity, structural damage and quality of life. Methods: axSpA patients and age/gender/BMI matched healthy controls were recruited. The muscle mechanical properties (MMPs), such as tone or frequency, stiffness, decrement (linear elastic properties), relaxation and creep (viscoelastic properties), of cervical (semispinalis capitis) and lumbar (erector spinae) muscles were bilaterally measured at rest using myotonometry. Additionally, conventional metrology, BASMI (metrology index), BASDAI (disease activity index), mSASSS (radiological structural damage index) and SF-12 (health-related quality of life questionnaire) were used in the axSpA group. Between-groups comparison, intra-group correlations and multivariable regression analyses were performed to achieve the study aims. Results: Thirty-four axSpA patients (mean age: 46.21 ± 8.53 y) and 34 healthy volunteers (mean age: 43.97 ± 8.49 y) were recruited. Both in cervical and lumbar spine, linear elastic parameters were significantly higher in axSpA patients in comparison with controls, while viscoelastic parameters were significantly lower. Lumbar muscle frequency, stiffness, relaxation, creep and cervical muscle elasticity were fair to strongly correlated (|0.346| < r < |0.774|) with age, functional status, activity of disease, structural damage and quality of life in axSpA patients. Furthermore, moderate to good fitted multivariate models (0.328 < R2 < 0.697) were obtained combining age, conventional metrology, activity of the disease and function for the estimation of cervical and lumbar MMPs. Conclusion: Mechanical properties of spinal muscles of axSpA patients differ from controls. Lumbar and cervical muscles exhibit greater linear elastic properties and lower viscoelastic properties, which are related with age, clinical and psychophysiological features of axSpA.