Cervical paraspinal spontaneous activity in asymptomatic subjects

Elaine S. Date, Byung Jo Kim, Joon Shik Yoon, Byung Kyu Park

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Paraspinal fibrillation potentials or positive sharp waves (PSWs) reportedly may be the only electrodiagnostic abnormality in patients with radiculopathies. However, spontaneous activity may be present in muscles of asymptomatic subjects. To determine whether abnormal spontaneous activity in the cervical paraspinal muscles is clinically relevant, we evaluated the prevalence of such activity in asymptomatic individuals and examined its relationship with age. Sixty-six asymptomatic subjects underwent a needle electromyographic examination of the paraspinal muscles bilaterally at the C5/6 and C6/7 levels. All of the recorded potentials were captured and their firing rates and waveforms were evaluated. The potentials were considered to be abnormal if reproducible trains of PSWs or fibrillation potentials were present. Eight of the 66 (12%) subjects showed PSWs, five bilaterally; none showed fibrillation potentials. A statistical analysis for the effect of age could not be performed due to the small sample size. Because electromyographic cervical paraspinal abnormalities can be found in asymptomatic subjects, caution should be exercised when attributing the etiology of neck pain to radiculopathy if the only electrodiagnostic findings are electromyographic cervical paraspinal abnormalities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)361-364
    Number of pages4
    JournalMuscle and Nerve
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006 Sep


    • Cervical radiculopathy
    • Fibrillation potentials
    • Paraspinal muscles
    • Positive sharp waves

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Clinical Neurology
    • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
    • Physiology (medical)


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