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Open Access Research article

Isometric force production parameters during normal and experimental low back pain conditions

Martin Descarreaux12*, Jean-Sébastien Blouin1 and Normand Teasdale1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculté de Médecine, Division de Kinésiologie, U. Laval, Canada

2 Département de Chiropratique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Canada

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2005, 6:6  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-6-6

Published: 9 February 2005

Abstract

Background

The control of force and its between-trial variability are often taken as critical determinants of motor performance. Subjects performed isometric trunk flexion and extension forces without and with experiment pain to examine if pain yields changes in the control of trunk forces. The objective of this study is to determine if experimental low back pain modifies trunk isometric force production.

Methods

Ten control subjects participated in this study. They were required to exert 50 and 75% of their isometric maximal trunk flexion and extension torque. In a learning phase preceding the non painful and painful trials, visual and verbal feedbacks were provided. Then, subjects were asked to perform 10 trials without any feedback. Time to peak torque, time to peak torque variability, peak torque variability as well as constant and absolute error in peak torque were calculated. Time to peak and peak dF/dt were computed to determine if the first peak of dF/dt could predict the peak torque achieved.

Results

Absolute and constant errors were higher in the presence of a painful electrical stimulation. Furthermore, peak torque variability for the higher level of force was increased with in the presence of experimental pain. The linear regressions between peak dF/dt, time to peak dF/dt and peak torque were similar for both conditions. Experimental low back pain yielded increased absolute and constant errors as well as a greater peak torque variability for the higher levels of force. The control strategy, however, remained the same between the non painful and painful condition. Cutaneous pain affects some isometric force production parameters but modifications of motor control strategies are not implemented spontaneously.

Conclusions

It is hypothesized that adaptation of motor strategies to low back pain is implemented gradually over time. This would enable LBP patients to perform their daily tasks with presumably less pain and more accuracy.