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Catastrophizing Linked to Muscle Endurance in Back Pain

Those with high pain catastrophizing scores have lower endurance than those with low scores

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with chronic low back pain who have more catastrophizing thoughts have reduced back muscle endurance, which offers support for previous theoretical models of pain and disability, according to research published in the Oct. 15 issue of Spine.

Christian Larivière, Ph.D., of the Occupational Health and Safety Research Institute Robert-Sauvé in Montreal, and colleagues analyzed data from 27 subjects with nonspecific chronic low back pain and 31 healthy controls. Subjects underwent a submaximal fatigue test while surface electromyography (EMG) signals from back muscles were recorded.

The researchers found that patients with high pain catastrophizing scores (PCS) had significantly reduced back muscle endurance compared to patients with low PCS. EMG variables that were used in the regression equations to predict endurance supported this finding. However, some EMG indices also found that the low-PCS subjects had less back muscle fatigue, lower EMG amplitude variations, and more alternating activity than the controls.

"Pain catastrophizing has been confirmed as an important affect-related construct of pain, but is a rather complex construct comprising three distinct dimensions (rumination, magnification, and helplessness). The present findings could be explained by one or more of these dimensions, and this would represent a research question that should be addressed before tailoring treatment according to the 'catastrophizing' profile of the patients," the authors write.

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