Featured image courtesy of Bilchak et al. (2021).

Spinal disruption can lead to serious conditions. Muscle-related issues can lead to spinal stiffness, pain or future spinal cord injury. It is therefore crucial to understand how abnormalities develop and can be treated to prevent spinal damage. This publication review highlights two studies that investigated issues relating to spinal-muscle injury or insult and possible treatments to improve spinal-muscle conditions.

Influence of Intervertebral Fixation and Segmental Thrust Level on Immediate Post-Spinal Manipulation Trunk Muscle Spindle Response in an Animal Model

In this article, Lima et al. (2021) investigated possible treatments to chronic lower back pain. They hypothesized that two-level facet-joint fixation will speed muscle spindle responses to applied spinal forces. These applied spinal forces are known as high-velocity low-amplitude spinal manipulation (HVLA-SM) that, with unilateral facet-join fixation, cause an increase in spinal joint stiffness and reduce muscle spindle discharge. Using our 310C Lever System, the researchers were able to delivery HVLA-SM to the lumber spine of adult cats. They compared the effects of the applied force in cats that had either unilateral or two-level facet joint fixation. The results indicated that two-level facet join fixation was unable to alter the muscle spindle discharge. The researchers concluded that muscle spindle response must be limited on a physiological level after HVLA-SM thrust delivery.

Enhancing KCC2 activity decreases hyperreflexia and spasticity after chronic SCI

In this article, Bilchak et al. (2021) sought to use pharmacological treatment to decrease symptoms associated with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). Current medications act on GABAergic and calcium-dependent signaling which leads to serious side effects. Instead, exercise can decrease symptoms of SCI and avoid motoneuron depression. The effect of exercise is associated with an increase in lumbar neuron KCC2 chloride co-transporter. Using our 305C-LR lever system, the researchers prepared and isolated muscle in rats that were then divided into an exercise or sedentary condition. Using a drug that increases KCC2 activity, the researchers were able to mirror the effects of exercise in sedentary rats with chronic SCI. This novel finding suggests that KCC2 could be a future pharmacological approach to reducing spastic symptoms in chronic SCI.