Force matching at the elbow joint is disturbed by muscle soreness Academic Article uri icon


  • These experiments are concerned with the ability of human subjects to match isometric torque in their elbow flexor muscles when biceps of one arm is made sore. Pain was induced by injection of hypertonic saline. Subjects were asked to generate a level of torque, 30% of maximum, with one arm, the reference arm. To achieve the required torque, subjects were given visual feedback. Subjects were then asked to match this torque with their other arm, the indicator arm. In control measurements, subjects were consistent in their matching ability and often were quite accurate. However, when biceps of one arm was made sore, subjects consistently and significantly underestimated the level of torque being generated by the sore arm. Painful heat applied to the skin over biceps produced a similar pattern of errors. Heating skin remote from elbow flexors had no significant effect. One interpretation of these findings is that the nociceptive input from the sore region of skin or muscle leads to reduced excitability of the motor cortex. That, in turn, disturbs the relationship between the centrally generated effort and motor output, leading to matching errors.

publication date

  • January 2003