Do Changes in Sensory Processing Precede Low Back Pain Development in Healthy Individuals?

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Low back pain (LBP) is the most commonly reported chronic pain condition. In this study, a clinically relevant, induced-LBP paradigm was used to study sensory processing as a risk factor and predictor for LBP development in healthy people. Our aim was to examine sensory processing in those who do develop LBP and those who do not develop LBP with the paradigm, and to examine the relationships between scores on psychosocial questionnaires and sensory processing measures in these healthy people.


A total of 71 participants completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and then took part in quantitative sensory testing. An induced-LBP paradigm, where participants stand for 2 hours and rate their low back symptoms over time, was used to classify participants as those who did develop LBP and those who did not develop LBP.


No differences in sensory processing were identified between those who did develop LBP and those who did not develop LBP (Ps>0.05). Scores for the PCS and HADS were similar between the groups (Ps>0.05). Small significant relationships between PCS scores and cold detection and cold pain thresholds were found (rs=0.23 to 0.31; Ps<0.05) and between the pressure pain thresholds at the thenar eminence and paraspinals (r=0.53; P<0.01).


These results provide evidence that altered sensory processing was not present in healthy people and thus is not a risk factor for development of LBP in standing.

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