Back Pain Intensity Not Linked to Extent of Muscle Damage

Magnitude of exercise-induced muscle damage not associated with intensity of low back pain

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The intensity of exercise-induced low back pain is not statistically associated with the magnitude of spinal muscle damage in the lumbar erector spinae, according to a study published in the December issue of The Spine Journal.

Mark D. Bishop, P.T., Ph.D., of the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues induced delayed onset muscle soreness in the low backs of 20 healthy pain-free volunteers (11 women; average age, 22.3 years) in a laboratory setting. The 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) was used to measure pain intensity before and 48 hours after exercise. Muscle damage was quantified using mechanical pain thresholds, motor performance deficits, and transverse relaxation time (T2)-weighted MRI.

The researchers found no significant correlations between pain intensity and measures of muscle damage. There was a significant association between the remaining torque deficit at 48 hours and pain area. Reports of pain intensity at 48 hours ranged from 0 to 59 mm on the VAS. Muscle damage was confirmed by significant reductions in mechanical threshold and motor performance and by significant changes in T2-weighted MRI.

"The results of this study indicate that there was no association between the magnitude of muscle damage in the lumbar erector spinae and reported pain intensity in the low back," the authors write.

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