Original Research Original Research|Articles in Press

Widespread proprioceptive acuity impairment in chronic back pain: a cross-sectional study

Published:March 16, 2023DOI:



      To investigate whether proprioceptive accuracy measured with the Joint Position Sense (JPS) in patients with chronic neck and low back pain is impaired exclusively in affected areas or also in distant areas, not affected by pain.


      Cross-sectional study.


      Interdisciplinary outpatient rehabilitation clinic for back and neck pain.


      Patients with chronic neck pain (n=30), patients with chronic low back pain (n=30) and age- and sex-matched asymptomatic control subjects (n=30).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Patients and asymptomatic control subjects completed a test procedure for the JPS of the cervical spine, lumbar spine and ankle in a randomized order. Between group differences were analyzed with the univariate analysis of variance and associations of the JPS with clinical features using the Pearson's correlation coefficient.


      Both patients with chronic neck pain (p < 0.001) and patients with chronic low back pain (p < 0.01) differed significantly from asymptomatic controls in the JPS of the cervical spine, lumbar spine and ankle joint, regardless of the painful area. No difference was shown between patient groups (p > 0.05). An association of the JPS with clinical characteristics, however, could not be shown.


      These results suggest widespread impairment of proprioceptive accuracy in patients with chronic and low back pain and a role for central sensorimotor processes in musculoskeletal pain conditions.

      Key words

      List of abbreviations:

      CNP (Chronic neck pain), CLBP (Chronic low back pain), JPS (Joint Position Sense), JPSE (Joint Position Sense Error), CSI (Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI)), NDI (Neck Disability Index (NDI)), RMDQ (Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ)), TSK (Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia), ANOVA (Analysis of variance), CNS (Central nervous system)
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