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Gait Posture. 2015 Feb;41(2):652-7. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.01.017. Epub 2015 Jan 24.

Experimentally induced central sensitization in the cervical spine evokes postural stiffening strategies in healthy young adults.

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Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Canada. Electronic address:
Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Canada.


Dysequilibrium of cervicogenic origin can result from pain and injury to cervical paraspinal tissues post-whiplash; however, the specific physiological mechanisms still remain unclear. Central sensitization is a neuradaptive process which has been clinically associated with conditions of chronic pain and hypersensitivity. Strong links have been demonstrated between pain hypersensitivity and postural deficits post-whiplash; however, the precise mechanisms are still poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to explore the mechanisms of cervicogenic disequilibrium by investigating the effect of experimentally induced central sensitization in the cervical spine on postural stability in young healthy adults. Sixteen healthy young adults (7 males (22.6±1.13 years) and 9 females (22±2.69 years)) performed 30-s full-tandem stance trials on an AMTI force plate under normal and centrally sensitized conditions. The primary outcome variables included the standard deviation of the center of pressure (COP) position in medio-lateral (M-L) and antero-posterior (A-P) directions; sway range of the COP in M-L and A-P directions and the mean power frequency (MPF) of the COP and horizontal ground shear forces. Variability and sway range of the COP decreased with experimental induction of central sensitization, accompanied by an increase in MPF of COP displacement in both M-L and A-P directions, suggesting an increase in postural stiffening post-sensitization versus non-sensitized controls. Future studies need to further explore this relationship in clinical (whiplash, chronic pain) populations.


Balance; Central sensitization; Cervicogenic dysequilibrium; Pain

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