Introduction Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a leading cause of disability in the UK Military. Pain and psychological comorbidities have been reported to influence the rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Exercise rehabilitation can be monitored using RPE; however, the accuracy of RPE in inpatient CLBP rehabilitation is unknown.
Methods A prospective cohort correlation study of 40 UK Military inpatients with CLBP was completed. Disability (ODI), kinesiophobia (TSK), anxiety (GAD-7) and depression (PHQ-9) were subjectively reported at the beginning and end of a 3 week intervention. Pain (VAS) and HR were recorded in the first aerobic exercise (AE) session (T1) and the final aerobic exercise session (T2). RPE was reported for each AE session.
Results At T1, a positive correlation was observed between RPE accuracy (−7.2±20.9), and pre-exercise pain (2.7 mm ±1.6 mm) (p>0.001) and ODI (31.0±16.9) (p>0.05), and a negative relationship between RPE accuracy and average HR (135 bpm ±22 bpm) (p>0.001) was observed. At T2, there was no significant correlation between RPE accuracy (−4.4±22.6) and pre-exercise pain (2.8 mm ±1.6 mm) or ODI (34.0±16.5) (p>0.05). The strong negative relationship between RPE accuracy and average HR (137 bpm ±20 bpm) remained at T2. Improved RPE accuracy over the 3-week rehabilitation programme was correlated to the change in average HR (r=−0.314, p<0.05).
Conclusions Comorbidities may negatively affect RPE accuracy in CLBP, but the magnitude of the influence reduces over intensive rehabilitation.
- rehabilitation medicine
- back pain
- musculoskeletal disorders
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. The data are deidentified participant data and can be provided by the lead author on reasonable request.
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Contributors DC conceived and carried out the research project as part of an MSc dissertation. SP and AB supervised the project throughout data collection. DC wrote the first draft. SP and AB reviewed and provided recommendations for final manuscript. All authors approved of final draft for submission.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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