Objective. To determine whether pain and fear of pain have competing effects on postural sway in patients with low back pain (LBP).
Summary of Background Data. Competing effects of pain and pain-related fear on postural control can be proposed as the likely explanation for inconsistent results regarding postural sway in the LBP literature. We hypothesized that although pain might increase postural sway, fear of pain might reduce sway through an increased cognitive effort or increased co-contraction to restrict body movement.
3 experimental groups with current LBP, recent LBP, and no LBP.
Results. The current-LBP group and recent-LBP group reported significantly different levels of pain, but similar levels of pain catastrophizing and kinesiophobia.
Conclusion. Alterations of postural sway are mostly mediated by pain but not pain-related fear. LBP tends to increase sway amplitude, which seems to be counteracted by increased effort invested in postural control leading to decreased frequency and increased regularity of sway particularly under increased task demands.