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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Dec 2023 - 22 Dec 2023

2023 Nov 29



Lower individual alpha frequency in individuals with chronic low back pain and fear of movement.


Ho RLM, Park J, Wang WE, Thomas JS, Cruz-Almeida Y, Coombes SA


Significant progress has been made in linking measures of individual alpha frequency (IAF) and pain. A lower IAF has been associated with chronic neuropathic pain and with an increased sensitivity to pain in healthy young adults. However, the translation of these findings to chronic low back pain (cLBP) are sparse and inconsistent. To address this limitation, we assessed IAFs in a cohort of 70 individuals with cLBP, implemented 3 different IAF calculations, and separated cLBP subjects based on psychological variables. We hypothesized that a higher fear movement in cLBP is associated with a lower IAF at rest. A total of 10 minutes of resting data were collected from 128 electroencephalography channels. Our results offer 3 novel contributions to the literature. First, the high fear group had a significantly lower peak alpha frequency. The high fear group also reported higher pain and higher disability. Second, we calculated individual alpha frequency using 3 different but established methods; the effect of fear on individual alpha frequency was robust across all methods. Third, fear of movement, pain intensity, and disability highly correlated with each other and together significantly predicted IAF. Our findings are the first to show that individuals with cLBP and high fear have a lower peak alpha frequency.