Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fear feeds the pain

17.10.2013
People suffering from lumbago do not move as healthy people do. The pain and the fear of it change their way of moving. This partially explains how acute lumbago can in some cases become chronic. A researcher supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation has shown that patients suffer less if they are reassured.

According to the statistics, only 20% of the population in industrialised countries maintain that they have never experienced back pain. The majority of people suffer at least once in their lives from lumbago, an affliction characterised by pain between the twelfth rib and the buttocks crease. Lumbago is mainly caused by the manipulation of heavy objects, bad posture, stress or a lack of physical activity.

Patients generally recover within six to twelve weeks. However, for reasons that are still unknown, the illness becomes chronic and the prospects of recovery uncertain for a minority of the patients. The treatment of such patients accounts for 85% of the total costs incurred by cases of lumbago, i.e. approximately CHF 6 billion per year in Switzerland.

Yves Henchoz and his colleagues at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières, Canada, wondered what role the fear of pain might play in the chronification of the illness: does fear change the activity of the trunk muscles and the way in which movements are executed? They asked 22 people in good health and 22 patients suffering from chronic lumbago to bend and then straighten their trunks. While the participants were doing this, a thermode was applied to their lower back; the thermode issued three levels of heat: painless, slightly painful or painful. Before each contact, the participants were informed about the stimulation that they were about to receive.

A vicious circle
During the experiment, the researchers measured the movements of the lower back and the lumbar muscle activity. The - recently published (*) - results were surprising. People in good health are most influenced by the fear of pain: the stronger the fear, the more rigid the muscles become. In patients suffering from chronic lumbago, the anticipation of strong pain leads to less neuromuscular change. The researchers' explanation is that these patients are already stiff when they bend their backs and receive the painless heat. As their movement strategy is more fixed, it adapts less well to the environment. They are trapped within a vicious circle: fearing the suffering linked to movement, they lose their mobility, and the pain persists.

Manipulating the waits
Six out of the 27 times that the participants bent and straightened their backs, the researchers manipulated their anticipation of the pain through false instructions: before applying a high level of heat, they announced only a slight pain. Both the persons in good health and those suffering from lumbago felt less pain when the hot thermode was applied. Hence, it seems that the first pain-reliever to be administered to a patient suffering from acute lumbago should be a generous dose of reassuring words, in order to prevent the illness from becoming chronic.

(*)Yves Henchoz, Charles Tétreau, Jacques Abboud, Mathieu Piché, Martin Descarreaux (2013). Effects of noxious stimulation and pain expectations on neuromuscular control of the spine in patients with chronic low back pain. The Spine Journal online.
doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.07.452
(available in pdf format from the SNSF to media representatives only: com@snf.ch)

Contact
Dr Yves Henchoz
Alcohol Treatment Center
Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV)
CH-1011 Lausanne
Phone.: +41 21 314 01 39
E-mail: yves.henchoz@chuv.ch

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Further information:
http://www.snf.ch/E/media/pressreleases

Further reports about: back pain bad posture good health lumbago physical activity thermode vicious circle

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How gut bacteria can make us ill

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

On track to heal leukaemia

18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>