Maximal cardiopulmonary exercise test in patients with chronic low back pain: feasibility, tolerance and relation with central sensitization. An observational study: feasibility, tolerance and relation with central sensitization. An observational study

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Abstract

PURPOSE: To analyze the feasibility of and pain-related tolerance to a maximal cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET), and the relationship between the aerobic capacity and central sensitization (CS) in patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP).

METHODS: An observational study, combining a cross-sectional and a prospective 24-hour follow-up was performed. Participants underwent a maximal CPET on a cycle ergometer and were assessed with three measures of CS (CS Inventory, quantitative sensory testing and heart rate variability). Before the CPET, immediately afterwards and 24 h after, the Pain Response Questionnaire (PRQ) was filled out. The CPET was considered feasible when >80% performed maximally, and tolerable when <20% reported relevant pain increase, body reactions and additional pain medication use in the PRQ. Multiple regression analyses were applied to assess the relationship between the aerobic capacity (VO2max) and CS measures, corrected for confounders.

RESULTS: 74 patients with CLBP participated of which 30 were male, mean age was 40.4 years (SD: 12.4) and median VO2max was 23.9 ml/kg/min (IQR: 18.2-29.4). CPET was completed by 92%. No serious adverse events occurred. A relevant pain increase was reported in the upper legs by 40% immediately after CPET and by 28% 24 h afterwards, 27% reported body reactions after 24 h, and 22% increased pain medication use 24 h after CPET. Very weak and not significant relations (rpartial=-0.21 to 0.05; p > 0.10) were observed between aerobic capacity and CS measures.

CONCLUSIONS: A maximal CPET is feasible in patients with CLBP. Most, but not all, tolerated it well. CS was not related to aerobic capacity.Implications for rehabilitationMaximal CPET is feasible in patients with CLBP and well tolerated by most patients.Maximal CPET can be safely applied to assess the aerobic capacity of patients with CLBP.Aerobic capacity is unrelated to central sensitization.Outcomes of a maximal CPET and the pain response to straining activity can be used to provide valid information for the decision-making of exercise therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6287–6294
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume44
Issue number21
Early online date24-Aug-2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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