Women with fibromyalgia walk with an altered muscle synergy
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Most individuals can use different movement and muscle recruitment patterns to perform a stated task but often only one pattern is selected which optimizes an unknown global objective given the individual's neuromusculoskeletal characteristics. Patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FS), characterized by their chronic pain, reduced physical work capacity and muscular fatigue, could exhibit a different control signature compared to asymptomatic control volunteers (CV). To test this proposal, 22 women with FS, and 11 CV, were assessed in a gait analysis laboratory. Each subject walked repeatedly at self-selected slow, comfortable, and fast walking speeds. The gait analysis provided, for each walk, each subject's stride time, length, and velocity, and ground reaction force, and lower extremity joint kinematics, moments and powers. The data were then anthropometrically scaled and velocity normalized to reduce the influence of subject mass, leg length, and walking speed on the measured gait outcomes. Similarities and differences in the two groups' scaled and normalized gait patterns were then determined. Results show that FS and CV walk with externally similar stride lengths, times, and velocities, and joint angles and ground reaction forces but they use internally different muscle recruitment patterns. Specifically, FS preferentially power gait using their hip flexors instead of their ankle plantarflexors. Interestingly, CV use a similar muscle fatiguing recruitment pattern to walk fast which parallels the common complaint of fatigue reported by FS walking at comfortable speed.
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