Are tactile acuity and clinical symptoms related to differences in perceived body image in patients with chronic nonspecific lower back pain?

Clinically, perceived image of the lower back and the two-point discrimination (TPD) test are employed as markers for evaluating alterations of cortical reorganization. The aim of this study was to examine whether TPD and selected clinical findings differ in subgroups of individuals with chronic nonspecific lower back pain (CNLBP) based on body image drawings. Forty-two patients with CNLBP and seventeen healthy individuals were recruited. Perceived body image, TPD and clinical profiles was measured. Of the patients with CNLBP, 42.8% had a normal perceived body image, 28.5% an expanded image, and 28.5% a shrunken image. The TPD distance threshold was significantly larger for the expanded subgroup (13.3±6.8mm) compared with the control (5.5±3.8mm; Difference, 7.8; 95%CI, 1.83 to 13.66; p<0.05) and normal subgroups (4.5±5.5mm; Difference, 8.8; 95%CI, 2.90 to 14.59; p<0.05). No significant differences in severity of pain, duration of pain, Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RDQ), and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) scores were found between three body image subgroups. Our results suggest that TPD is increased in patients who report an expanded perceived image of the lower back compared with healthy individuals and patients who report a normal image. The effectiveness of new rehabilitation techniques may be evaluated by assessing perceived image of the lower back and TPD values for patients with CNLBP prior to and following treatment.