Fear and difficulty perceived when visualizing therapeutic exercise in patients with chronic low back pain: A cross-sectional study

J Exerc Rehabil. 2015 Dec 31;11(6):345-55. doi: 10.12965/jer.150232. eCollection 2015 Dec.


The main aim of this study was to evaluate the perceived level of difficulty and fear of movement among patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) compared with asymptomatic subjects when they visualized motor control therapeutic exercises (MCTEs) commonly used in physiotherapy. Our secondary objective was to analyse the correlation between fear of MCTEs and other psychological and disability variables. Thirty patients with CLBP comprised the treatment group, and 30 asymptomatic subjects comprised the control group. The procedure consisted of showing photographs and videos of seven MCTEs and having the participants rate their perceived difficulty and fear. Participants then answered a series of psychological self-report measures. Differences were found between groups in perceived difficulty of the MCTEs shown in videos (F=21.06, P<0.001) and photographs (F=15.86, P<0.001), as well as for perceived fear (F=9.71, P<0.001; F=8.61, P<0.001, respectively). Regression analysis indicated that in the CLBP group the predictor variable for perceived difficulty and fear was the lumbar disability (explaining 44% and 28% of the variance, respectively), however in the control group the predictor variables were catastrophizing and self-efficacy (38% and 34% of the variance, respectively). In conclusion, patients with CLBP experience greater perceived level of difficulty and fear of movement when visualizing MCTEs than asymptomatic subjects. Psychological factors and disability were correlated with perceived difficulty and fear when videos and photographs of exercises were shown.

Keywords: Exercise; Fear-avoidance beliefs; Recurrent low back pain; Self-efficacy.