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A Case Control Study to Investigate Differences in Motor Control between Individuals with and without Non-Specific Low Back Pain

Author:Cathrin Koch, Augusto Garcia-Agundez, Stefan Göbel, Frank Hänsel
Date:July 2020
Kind:Article - use for journal articles only
Journal:PLOS One
Abstract:Recent literature has indicated altered motor control in individuals with non-specific low back pain (NSLBP). These individuals present variations in back muscular activity and center of mass (CoM) oscillations. The aim of this study is to explore the possibility of quantitatively measuring these differences using standard parameters with electronic devices. Twenty individuals with NSLBP and 20 healthy controls, matched by sex and age, performed a total of three trials under three different conditions for 90 seconds each. These conditions were standing on firm ground with eyes open, with eyes closed and standing on unstable foam with eyes open. Balance data was acquired via a Kistler force platform and muscular activity was measured by electromyography derived bilaterally from the erector spinae. Afterwards, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire on their current mood, pain rating, well-being, disability and physical activity. Descriptive data from the questionnaire showed an average acute pain score of 2.6 and an average pain score of 5.1 for the prior six weeks in the NSLBP group, while the control group reported an acute pain of 0.1 and an average pain of 0.5. For wellbeing, differences were found only for the physical scale. Average disability was low for the NSLBP group. No differences in physical activity were found among groups. A repeated measures ANOVA did not show significant differences between groups for any parameter. There was also no main effect for the standing conditions and no interaction between group and condition. Simultaneously measuring biomechanical and neuromuscular parameters, allowed for a fine grain approach to understanding motor control in individuals with NSLBP. This study did not find differences as described in the literature, and suggests further examination of factors involved in pain and control processes to better understand implications of NSLBP and possible avenues for support.
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