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Physical activity and autonomic regulation in workers with chronic neck-shoulder pain - monitoring during work and leisure time
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences.
Högskolan i Gävle.
Centrum för belastningsskadeforskning, Högskolan i Gävle.
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keyword [en]
Heart rate variability, Trapezius myalgia, Sympathetic, Parasympathetic, Perceived stress, Daily physical activity
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-187529OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-187529DiVA: diva2:575044
Available from: 2012-12-07 Created: 2012-12-07 Last updated: 2013-07-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Autonomic nervous system regulation in chronic neck-shoulder pain: Relations to physical activity and perceived stress
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Autonomic nervous system regulation in chronic neck-shoulder pain: Relations to physical activity and perceived stress
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Neck-shoulder pain (NSP) is a highly prevalent musculoskeletal disorder with unclear causes, and effective prevention and treatment require a further understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Aberrant autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation is a hypothesized causal element in the development and maintenance of chronic muscle pain.

The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate possible differences in ANS regulation between chronic NSP and healthy control (CON) groups using both laboratory assessment and ambulatory monitoring in daily life.

Four papers are included in this thesis, based on data from three groups with chronic NSP. Autonomic responses to laboratory stressors were assessed using heart rate variability (HRV), blood pressure, trapezius muscle activity and blood flow measurements (Study І) in NSP and CON. Long-term ambulatory monitoring of HRV, physical activity and perceived symptoms were assessed in Studies ІІ and IV to investigate group differences in real-life conditions. Finally, the effects of a ten-week intervention (using individually adjusted HRV biofeedback) to reinstating ANS balance in subjects with chronic NSP were evaluated using self-reported symptoms and health ratings, as well as autonomic regulation testing (i.e., evaluating HRV at rest and in response to stress) (Study ІІІ).

The main findings from the four studies demonstrated aberrant ANS regulation in the NSP group compared to CON, which was predominantly characterized by diminished parasympathetic cardiac activity during rest and sleep, and altered sympathetic reactivity to laboratory stressors (Studies І, ІІ and IV). Different patterns in physical activity were observed between the NSP and CON groups, with reduced physical activity during leisure time in the NSP group (Studies ІІ and IV). Physical activity was found to be positively associated with HRV. Positive effects of HRV-biofeedback were found on perceived health, including social function, vitality and bodily pain, and improved HRV (Study ІІІ).

In conclusion, imbalanced ANS regulation was demonstrated among persons with chronic NSP at both the systemic and local levels. Diminished parasympathetic activity in NSP was modulated by lower levels of physical activity in leisure time. Interventions targeting ANS functions might benefit persons with chronic NSP.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 68 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 851
Autonomic imbalance, Daily physical activity, Trapezius myalgia, Treatment, Parasympathetic, Sympathetic
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-187613 (URN)978-91-554-8561-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-08, Hus 33, Sal 202, Högskolan i Gävle, Kungsbäcksvägen 47, Gävle, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-01-18 Created: 2012-12-10 Last updated: 2013-02-11Bibliographically approved

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