People with low back pain show reduced movement complexity during their most active daily tasks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of Stuttgart
  • University of Göttingen


BACKGROUND: Actigraphy is a quantitative method for the investigation of human physical activity and is normally based on accelerometric and/or kinematic data.

METHODS: A multichannel actigraphy system, able to record both acceleration and spine angles, was employed in this study to measure the quality of movement in 17 individuals with chronic low back pain (LBP) and 18 healthy individuals during unrestricted daily activities. An indication of movement complexity was computed by means of non-negative matrix factorization throughout the 24 hours period and in the 60 minutes of highest activity.

RESULTS: Movement complexity differed only when the 60 minutes of highest activity were taken into account, with the LBP group showing reduced complexity (e.g. for dimensionality = 8, over 90% of the comparisons showed a significant reduction in the LBP group).

CONCLUSIONS: The results are compatible with the hypothesis that pain induces a reduction of the available kinematic trajectories and degrees of freedom during natural movements, which becomes more evident when more demanding tasks are performed. A reduced movement complexity suggests a persistent alteration of the descending neural pathways and/or a disrupted somatosensory information processing, which could be possibly contrasted by administering highly variable motor tasks. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Early online date23 Sep 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2018

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