DOES YOUR BACK FEEL STIFF? WELL, IT MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE STIFF, A NEW STUDY FINDS

By:Dr. Donna A. Pontoriero, Chiropractor

"My back feels so stiff!" We often hear our friends say.

Well, that doesn't mean your friend's back is actually stiff, according to a new study.

A concious experience of feeling stiff does not reflect true biomechanical back stiffness. When we use the same word, stiffness, to describe a feeling and how we measure actual stiffness, we assume these words are describing the same thing. But that is not always the case.

In the study, researchers asked participants how stiff their backs felt to them. After that, using a customized device, they measured just how stiff the back actually was.

There was no relation between biomechanical stiffness and the reported feeling of stiffness. What people describe as stiffness is something different than the measurement of stiffness.

The feeling of stiffness may be a protective construct that is created by our nervous system. It's our body's way of protecting ourselves, possibly from strain, further injury or more pain.

With lower back pain being the leading cause of disability worldwide affecting approximately 632 million people, it is important to examine mechanisms associated with lower back pain and its symptoms, including stiffness.

Words are important. We need to find out what it means exactly when someone says they have a stiff back. We now know it might not mean that their back is mechanically stiff. It could mean they feel their movements are slower and more painful.


Please contact our office if you would like further evaluation on your condition.

Dr. Donna Pontoriero can be reached at 299 Franklin Ave, Nutley NJ 07110, 973-235-9393.