INTRODUCTION: A relevant subsample of patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) have manifested augmented central pain processing, central sensitisation (CS). Patients with CLBP have limited functioning and participation. Theoretically, physical functioning in patients with CLBP can plausibly be linked to CS; however, evidence to explain such association is scarce. Moreover, there is no gold standard for CS diagnosis. The objectives of the study are: (1) to analyse the association between instruments assessing reference symptoms and signs attributed to CS; (2) to analyse whether reference symptoms and signs attributed to CS are associated with functioning measurement outcomes; and (3) to analyse whether changes (between baseline and discharge) in reference symptoms and signs attributed to CS are related to changes in each of the functioning measurement outcomes.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: A cross-sectional and longitudinal observational study is performed with measurements taken at baseline and discharge of an interdisciplinary rehabilitation programme. A sample size of 110 adult patients with CLBP has been calculated for the study. CS measurements are: Central Sensitisation Inventory, quantitative sensory testing and heart rate variability. Functioning measurements are: lifting capacity, maximal aerobic capacity, accelerometry and reported functioning. Statistical analyses to be performed are: (1) correlation between CS measurements, (2) multiple regression between functioning (dependent variable) and CS measurements (independent variable), and (3) multiple regression between changes in scores of functioning (dependent variable) and CS measurements (independent variable), and corrected for sex and age.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study obtained the clearance to its implementation from the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the University Medical Center Groningen in July 2017. The results will be disseminated through scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at relevant conferences, and reports to stakeholders.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NTR7167/NL6980.