Mislocalization of sensory information in people with chronic low back pain

The authors conducted this stud in order to identify whether or not individuals with chronic low back pain (CLBP) demonstrate impairments in the ability to localize sensory information delivered to the back more than pain-free controls and determine whether any sensory abnormalities are related to pain-related variables. Vision was occluded and participants were stimulated using light touch or pinprick over a number of body areas in random order. To assess for mislocalizations participants were asked to nominate the location of each stimulus in reference to a marked body chart. To assess referred sensations participants who were asked whether they experienced any sensations elsewhere during stimulation. If referred sensations were reported, testing was repeated with visualization of the stimulated area. Although a small number of CLBP patients demonstrated referral of sensations, this was not statistically different from what was observed in a pain-free control group (P=0.381). However, mislocalizations were very frequent in the patient sample and statistically more common than the authors found in controls (P=0.034). They were unable to detect any statistically significant associations between sensory function and the measured pain-related variables (all P>0.05).


They conclude that the data produced add to a growing body of evidence indicating that disturbed self-perception is a feature of CLBP. It is their assertion that  it is a possible likelihood that altered self-perception is maladaptive and adds to the maintenance of the problem so could represent a target of treatment for CLBP.