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Papers: 17 Dec 2022 - 23 Dec 2022

2022 Dec 16

Sci Rep



Adaptive changes in sensorimotor processing in patients with acute low back pain.


Boendermaker B, Buechler R, Michels L, Nijs J, Coppieters I, Hotz-Boendermaker S
Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 16; 12(1):21741.
PMID: 36526879.


In low back pain (LBP), primary care and secondary prevention of recurrent and persistent LBP are not always successful. Enhanced understanding of neural mechanisms of sensorimotor processing and pain modulation in patients with acute LBP is mandatory. This explorative fMRI study investigated sensorimotor processing due to mechanosensory stimulation of the lumbar spine. We studied 19 adult patients with acute LBP (< 4 weeks of an acute episode) and 23 healthy controls. On a numeric rating scale, patients reported moderate mean pain intensity of 4.5 out of 10, while LBP-associated disability indicated mild mean disability. The event-related fMRI analysis yielded no between-group differences. However, the computation of functional connectivity resulted in adaptive changes in networks involved in sensorimotor processing in the patient group: Connectivity strength was decreased in the salience and cerebellar networks but increased in the limbic and parahippocampal networks. Timewise, these results indicate that early connectivity changes might reflect adaptive physiological processes in an episode of acute LBP. These findings raise intriguing questions regarding their role in pain persistence and recurrences of LBP, particularly concerning the multiple consequences of acute LBP pain. Advanced understanding of neural mechanisms of processing non-painful mechanosensations in LBP may also improve therapeutic approaches.