University of Oulu

Pinto SM, Cheung JPY, Samartzis D, Karppinen J, Zheng Y-p, Pang MYC and Wong AYL (2020) Differences in Proprioception Between Young and Middle-Aged Adults With and Without Chronic Low Back Pain. Front. Neurol. 11:605787. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.605787

Differences in proprioception between young and middle-aged adults with and without chronic low back pain

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Author: Pinto, Sabina M.1; Cheung, Jason P. Y.2; Samartzis, Dino3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
2Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
3Department of Orthopedics Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, United States
4International Spine Research and Innovation Initiative, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, United States
5Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Rehabilitation Services of South Karelia Social and Health Care District, Lappeenranta, Finland
7Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-02-18


Introduction: While young adults with chronic low back pain (CLBP) exhibit impaired lumbar proprioception, it remains unclear if the same phenomenon is observed in middle-aged adults with CLBP.

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate whether young or middle-aged adults with CLBP displayed different proprioception ability as compared to age-matched asymptomatic controls.

Methods: Sixty-four young adults with [median age:34 [interquartile range (IQR): 29–37] years] and without [median age:29 (IQR; 23–34) years] CLBP, and 87 middle-aged adults with [median age:53 (IQR: 49–58) years] and without [median age: 54 (IQR: 45–64) years] CLBP underwent postural sway tests on a force-plate with (unstable surface) and without a foam (stable surface), while bilateral L5/S1 multifidi and triceps-surae were vibrated separately. An individual’s proprioception reweighting ability was estimated by relative proprioceptive reweighting (RPW). Higher RPW values indicate less reliance on lumbar multifidus proprioceptive signals for balance. Participants also underwent lumbar repositioning tests in sitting to determine repositioning errors in reproducing target lumbar flexion/extension positions.

Results: Young adults with CLBP demonstrated significantly higher median RPW values than age-matched asymptomatic controls for maintaining standing balance [stable surface: CLBP: 0.9 (IQR: 0.7–0.9), asymptomatic: 0.7 (IQR: 0.6–0.8), p < 0.05; unstable surface: CLBP: 0.6 (IQR: 0.4–0.8), asymptomatic: 0.5 (IQR: 0.3–0.7), p < 0.05]. No significant differences in repositioning error were noted between young or middle-aged adults with and without CLBP (p > 0.05). RPW values were unrelated to repositioning errors in all groups (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: Young adults with CLBP, and middle-aged adults with and without CLBP had inferior proprioceptive reweighting capability. This finding may indicate potential age-related deterioration in central and peripheral processing of lumbar proprioceptive signals. Future studies should use advanced imaging and/or electroencephalogram to determine mechanisms underlying changes in proprioceptive reweighting in middle-aged adults.

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Series: Frontiers in neurology
ISSN: 1664-2295
ISSN-E: 1664-2295
ISSN-L: 1664-2295
Volume: 11
Article number: 605787
DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2020.605787
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3112 Neurosciences
Funding: The current project was funded by Early Career Scheme (251018/17M).
Copyright information: © 2020 Pinto, Cheung, Samartzis, Karppinen, Zheng, Pang and Wong. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.