Increased pain sensitivity, postural abnormalities, and functional balance impairment in obstructive lung disease compared to healthy subjects

Heart Lung. 2019 Jul-Aug;48(4):351-355. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2018.12.009. Epub 2019 Jan 14.


Background: Recent reports have identified pain as a comorbidity in obstructive lung diseases, but data regarding pain in certain obstructive lung diseases such as COPD and bronchiectasis vs. healthy controls and differences in pain between these chronic lung diseases are limited.

Objectives: The primary aim of this study was to compare pain sensitivity, postural abnormalities, and functional balance in patients with COPD/bronchiectasis vs. healthy controls. The secondary aim was to evaluate differences in these parameters between two different lung diseases (COPD and bronchiectasis).

Methods: Twenty-nine patients with moderate to severe COPD/bronchiectasis and 31 healthy age/gender-matched individuals participated in the study. Pain sensitivity was assessed with an algometer. Postural abnormalities were analyzed from the lateral and posterior view. Functional balance was evaluated using the Timed Up and Go test (TUG).

Results: Significantly more patients reported pain compared to the healthy controls (89.7% vs. 19.4%, respectively) (p < 0.05). The pressure pain thresholds of the trapezius and deltoid muscles and pain tolerance of the pectoralis major muscle were significantly lower in patients compared to healthy subjects (p < 0.05). Total and posterior posture scores and TUG time were significantly higher in patients compared to the control group (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: This study showed that pain perception, severity, and sensitivity are increased in patients with COPD or bronchiectasis compared to the healthy population. These patients also have more severe postural abnormalities and functional balance impairment than the healthy population.

Keywords: Bronchiectasis; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Pain; Posture.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult