Pain catastrophizing mediates rapid benefits of accessing in-person chiropractic care during the COVID-19 lockdown

Carlos Gevers-Montoro, Zoha Deldar, Francisco Miguel Conesa-Buendía, Eric Arthur Lazar, Ignacio Mahillo-Fernandez, Ali Khatibi, Arantxa Ortega de Mues*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Spanish government to declare a state of emergency. A stringent lockdown was enforced, restricting access to healthcare services, including chiropractic. Reduced access to care provision in combination with psychological stress, social isolation and physical inactivity during the lockdown were shown to negatively influence pain conditions. However, data on strategies to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on these conditions are lacking. 

Methods: Upon easing of restrictions in May 2020, 51 chiropractic clinics throughout Spain pseudo-randomly invited patients, recruiting a total of 385 participants. During a 14-day period, participants were exposed to in-person chiropractic care in either one (n = 177) or multiple encounters (n = 109) or to no care (n = 99). The effects of access to chiropractic care on patients’ pain-related and psychological outcomes were assessed online through validated self-reported questionnaires before and after the period of care. Coprimary outcomes included pain intensity, pain interference and pain cognitions. 

Results: When comparing to participants without access to care, pain intensity and interference were significantly decreased at follow-up, irrespective of the number of encounters. Kinesiophobia was also significantly reduced at follow-up, though only after multiple encounters. The relationship between fear of movement, changes in pain intensity and interference was mediated by catastrophizing. 

Conclusion: Access to in-person chiropractic care may provide pain relief, associated with reductions in interference and pain cognitions. Prioritizing in-person care for patients with maladaptive pain cognitions may help dampen the detrimental consequences of the pandemic on physical and psychological well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-479
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
Issue number2
Early online date7 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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