How do people with low back pain adapt their posture, muscle activity and movements to avoid experiencing pain?

Disease Low back pain    

Lead applicant – Dr Alessio Gallina   

Organisation – University of Birmingham    

Type of grant – Early Career Researcher in Pain Awards 2019    

Status of grant – Active from 1 September 2020      

Amount of the original award – £105,785.40   

Start date – 01 September 2020    

Reference – 22485

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to study lower back pain in healthy volunteers using a new method of simulating back pain using electrical stimulation. Researchers will assess if pain intensity changes depending on how people move. This will help researchers to understand how and why people change the way they move when they are in pain.

Why is this research important?   

Pain and movement are closely connected. Many researchers and clinicians believe that the way someone moves can contribute to the development and persistence of low back pain.

To be able to investigate how pain changes the way people move, researchers have developed ‘experimental pain models’, which are ways to induce low back pain in healthy people for a short amount of time in a laboratory. Pain will be simulated using electrical stimulation delivered with pads placed on the lower back. Experiments will observe how people adapt their posture and muscle activity when they have pain and how they move to avoid experiencing pain.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research will help to fill the gap in knowledge of how the human body adapts when specific movements are painful. A better understanding of how pain changes the way we move is important to further our knowledge of lower back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders. This could help inform the design of targeted exercises, preventative measures and new treatments for back pain in the future.