Quantitative Estimation of Muscle Shear Elastic Modulus of the Upper Trapezius with Supersonic Shear Imaging during Arm Positioning

Hio Teng Leong, Gabriel Yin fat Ng, Vivian Yee fong Leung, Siu Ngor Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Pain and tenderness of the upper trapezius are the major complaints among people with chronic neck and shoulder disorders. Hyper-activation and increased muscle tension of the upper trapezius during arm elevation will cause imbalance of the scapular muscle force and contribute to neck and shoulder disorders. Assessing the elasticity of the upper trapezius in different arm positions is therefore important for identifying people at risk so as to give preventive programmes or for monitoring the effectiveness of the intervention programmes for these disorders. This study aimed to establish the reliability of supersonic shear imaging (SSI) in quantifying upper trapezius elasticity/shear elastic modulus and its ability to measure the modulation of muscle elasticity during arm elevation. Twenty-eight healthy adults (15 males, 13 females; mean age = 29.6 years) were recruited to participate in the study. In each participant, the shear elastic modulus of the upper trapezius while the arm was at rest and at 30° abduction was measured by two operators and twice by operator 1 with a time interval between the measurements. The results showed excellent within- and between-session intra-operator (ICC = 0.87-0.97) and inter-observer (ICC = 0.78-0.83) reliability for the upper trapezius elasticity with the arm at rest and at 30° abduction. An increase of 55.23% of shear elastic modulus from resting to 30° abduction was observed. Our findings demonstrate the possibilities for using SSI to quantify muscle elasticity and its potential role in delineating the modulation of upper trapezius elasticity, which is essential for future studies to compare the differences in shear elastic modulus between normal elasticity and that of individuals with neck and shoulder disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere67199
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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