Biomechanical muscle stiffness measures of extensor digitorum explain potential mechanism of McArdle sign

Nathan D. Schilaty, Filippo Savoldi, Zahra Nasr, Adriana M. Delgado, Lawrence J. Berglund, Brian G. Weinshenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: McArdle sign is a phenomenon of impaired gait and muscle weakness that occurs with neck flexion, immediately reversible with neck extension. A recent report measured the specificity of this sign for multiple sclerosis by measuring differences in peak torque of the extensor digitorum between neck extension and flexion. Methods: This substudy included 73 participants (29 multiple sclerosis, 20 non-multiple sclerosis myelopathies, 5 peripheral nerve disorders, and 19 healthy controls). The effect of neck position was assessed on muscle stiffness and neuromechanical error of the extensor digitorum. Findings: Patients with multiple sclerosis had greater neuromechanical error (sum of squared error of prediction) compared to controls (P = 0.023) and non-multiple sclerosis myelopathies (P = 0.003). Neuromechanical error also provided improved sensitivity/specificity of McArdle sign. Peak torque, muscle stiffness, and neuromechanical error could distinguish multiple sclerosis from other myelopathies with 80% specificity and 97% sensitivity (AUC = 0.95). Interpretation: A decrease in muscle stiffness and neuromechanical error in neck flexion compared to extension are additional indicators for a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Analysis of muscle stiffness may provide insights into the pathophysiology of this specific clinical sign for multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, muscle stiffness may provide an additional accurate, simple assessment to evaluate multiple sclerosis therapeutic interventions and disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105277
JournalClinical Biomechanics
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Diagnosis
  • McArdle
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myelopathy
  • Neuromechanical error
  • Stiffness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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