Cryotherapy and Transcutaneous Electric Neuromuscular Stimulation Decrease Arthrogenic Muscle Inhibition of the Vastus Medialis After Knee Joint Effusion

J Athl Train. 2002 Mar;37(1):25-31.


OBJECTIVE: Arthrogenic muscle inhibition (AMI) is a presynaptic, ongoing reflex inhibition of joint musculature after distension or damage to the joint. The extent to which therapeutic interventions affect AMI is unknown. The purpose of this study was to verify that the vastus medialis (VM) is inhibited using the knee joint effusion model and to investigate the effects of cryotherapy and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) on AMI using this model. DESIGN AND SETTING: A 3 x 6 analysis of variance was used to compare Hoffmann-reflex data for treatment groups (cryotherapy, TENS, and control) across time (preinjection, postinjection, and 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes after injection). SUBJECTS: Thirty neurologically sound volunteers (age = 21.8 +/- 2.4 years; height = 175.6 +/- 9.6 cm; mass = 71.5 +/- 13.3 kg) participated in this study. MEASUREMENTS: Hoffmann-reflex measurements were collected using a percutaneous stimulus to the femoral nerve and surface electromyography of the VM. RESULTS: Hoffmann-reflex measurements from the cryotherapy and TENS groups were greater than measurements from the control group at 15 and 30 minutes after injection. Measurements from the cryotherapy group were greater than for the TENS group, and measurements for the TENS group were greater than those for the control group at 45 minutes. At 60 minutes, the cryotherapy group measurements were greater than the TENS and control group measures. Measurements at 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes after injection were reduced compared with the preinjection and postinjection measurements in the control group. Measurements in the cryotherapy group at 30, 45, and 60 minutes were greater than the preinjection, postinjection, and 15-minute data. No differences between time intervals existed in the TENS group. CONCLUSIONS: Artificial knee joint effusion results in VM inhibition. Cryotherapy and TENS both disinhibit the quadriceps after knee joint effusion, and cryotherapy further facilitates the quadriceps motoneuron pool. Cryotherapy treatment resulted in facilitation of the VM motoneuron pool during the post-treatment phase. The TENS treatment failed to disinhibit the VM motoneuron pool by 30 minutes postinjection.