It is postulated that an altered adrenergic response pattern may be associated with chronic muscle pain states. To evaluate this hypothesis, one must fully understand the effect of an adrenergic activation on masticatory muscle blood flow under various conditions. This shady evaluated the effect of a 12°C cold pressor stimulation (a mild adrenergic activator), applied to the hand-forearm area, on intramuscular hemodynamics in the human masseter and temporalis muscles following a sustained isometric contraction. We assessed hemodynamics by measuring intramuscular hemoglobin concentration repeatedly, using a non-invasive near-infrared spectroscopy device. Measurements were taken before, during, and after a 30-second sustained 50% maximum voluntary contraction task. Fourteen healthy subjects, seven males and seven females, with no history of muscle pain in the masticatory system participated in this study. This protocol was repeated three times, but in the second trial, the cold pressor stimulation was applied to the subject during and for 5 min after the sustained contraction task. Repeated-measure analysis of variance performed on these data revealed that the peak hemoglobin concentration levels in the post-contraction recovery period were significantly reduced (between 13 and 14%) with cold pressor stimulation, both in the masseter (p < 0.001) and in the temporalis (p < 0.001) muscles. The results suggest that cold pressor stimulation produced a reduced intramuscular vasodilative response in these muscles during the immediate post-contraction period. One explanation for these results is that altering the local chemical environment of the muscle affects the adrenergic response pattern typically induced by a cold pressor stimulation.
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