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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Moseley 2008.

I can't find it! Distorted body image and tactile dysfunction in patients with chronic back pain

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Tags: chronic pain, odd, back pain, sensation & touch, neck, pain problems, spine, head/neck

PainSci summary of Moseley 2008?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

In this small, unusual study, six patients with low back pain were asked to draw their perceptions of their back and spine. For comparison, a group of ten patients with no recent back pain were asked to do the same exercises. They were encouraged to “draw what it feels like” rather than how it actually looked.

“All the patients, and none of the controls, showed disrupted body image of the back” on the same side and level as the pain. For instance, they did not have a clear sense of the outline of their trunk.

Most intriguingly, patients with back pain on just one side illustrated vertebrae deviated towards the painful side (without any obvious actual deviation).

original abstract

The conscious sense of our body, or body image, is often taken for granted, but it is disrupted in many clinical states including complex regional pain syndrome and phantom limb pain. Is the same true for chronic back pain? Body image was assessed, via participant drawings, in six patients with chronic back pain and ten healthy controls. Tactile threshold and two-point discrimination threshold (TPD) were assessed in detail. All the patients, and none of the controls, showed disrupted body image of the back. Five patients were unable to clearly delineate the outline of their trunk and stated that they could not "find it". TPD was greatly increased in the same zone as the absence or disruption of body image, but was otherwise similar to controls. The disturbance of body image and decrease in tactile acuity coincided with the normal distribution of pain, although there was no allodynia and there was no relationship between resting pain level and TPD. Tactile threshold was unremarkable for patients and controls. These preliminary data indicate that body image is disrupted, and tactile acuity is decreased, in the area of usual pain, in patients with chronic back pain. This finding raises the possibility that training body image or tactile acuity may help patients in chronic spinal pain, as it has been shown to do in patients with complex regional pain syndrome or phantom limb pain.

related content

These four articles on PainScience.com cite Moseley 2008 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: