Cognitive Dissonance A Possible Risk Factor For Neck, Low Back Pain: Study

According to a new study, the emotional distress of mental dissonance — receiving knowledge that contradicts how we act or what we think — is associated with increased stress on the neck and low back during lifting and lowering tasks. may contribute. When study participants who were told they were performing poorly in a precision decompression experiment in the lab were initially told they were doing well, their movements were found to place an increased load on the vertebrae in their neck and low back. was linked to. The results showed that the higher the cognitive dissonance score, the greater the extent of load on the upper and lower parts of the spine.

The finding suggests that cognitive dissonance may be a previously unrecognized risk factor for neck and low back pain, which could have implications for risk prevention in the workplace, according to the researchers. “This increased spine loading occurred under just one condition with a fairly light load — you can imagine that this would happen with more complex tasks or higher loads,” said senior author William Marras, executive director of the Spine Research Institute at Ohio State. How would it be?” university. “Basically, the study just scratched the surface of showing that there is something to it.”

The research was recently published in the journal Ergonomics. Marras’ lab has been studying daily living and occupational forces on the spine for decades. Nearly 20 years ago, they discovered that psychological stress can affect spine biomechanics, using a study design that involved a simulated argument with a graduate student in front of research participants. “We found that in certain personality types, the load in the spine increased by as much as 35%,” Marras said. “What we found is that when you’re under that kind of psychosocial stress, you do what we call the co-active muscles in your torso. It creates this tug of war in the muscles because you’re always under stress.” “In this study, to get at that mind-body connection, we decided to look at the way people think and with cognitive dissonance, when people are troubled by their thoughts.”

Seventeen research participants – nine men and eight women aged 19-44 – completed three phases of an experiment, in which they placed a light-weight box within a square on a surface that was moved left and right, up and down. Have been taken. After a short practice run, the researchers reported almost exclusively positive feedback during the first two 45-minute test blocks. During the second, the feedback increasingly suggested that the participants were performing in an unsatisfactory manner. To arrive at a cognitive dissonance score for each participant, changes in blood pressure and heart rate variability during the experiment were combined with responses to two questionnaires, which assessed levels of discomfort as well as positive and negative affect. Was – feeling strong and inspired versus distressed and ashamed.

Wearable sensors and motion-capture technology were used to detect peak spinal loads in the neck and low back: compression, or shearing, of the vertebrae and vertebrae moving from side to side (lateral) and back and forth (A/P). Statistical modeling revealed that, on average, peak spinal load at the cervical vertebrae in the neck was 11.1% higher in compression, 9.4% higher in A/P shear, and 19.3% higher in lateral shear during the negative-feedback test block compared to baseline. . Measure from practice runs. Peak loading in the lumbar region of the low back—a region that bears the brunt of any spinal loading—increased by 1.7% in compression and 2.2% in shear during the final test block.

“Part of the motivation here was to see if cognitive dissonance might manifest itself not only in the low back—we thought we’d find it there, but we didn’t know what we’d find in the neck. We found a neck very strong response,” said Marras, a professor of integrated systems engineering with College of Medicine academic appointments in neurosurgery, orthopedics and physical medicine and rehabilitation. “Our tolerance for shear is very, very low compared to compression, so this is important,” he said. “A small percentage of the load for one time isn’t a big deal. But think about you’re working day and night, and you’re in a job where you’re doing it 40 hours a week — it may be significant, and may be the difference between having a disorder and not having a disorder.”

Marras is also the principal investigator of a federally funded multi-institution clinical trial assessing a variety of treatments for low back pain that range from medication to exercise to cognitive behavioral therapy. “We’re trying to sort out this onion and understand all the different things that affect spinal cord disorders because it’s really complicated,” he said. “Just as the whole system has to be perfect for a car to run correctly, we’re learning that it’s the same with the spine. You can be in good shape physically, but if you don’t move in the right or proper way are not thinking through, or you have all these mental irregularities, like cognitive dissonance, that will affect the system. And until you get that right, you’re not right. We’re looking for causal pathways. And Now we can say cognitive dissonance plays a role and here’s how it works.”

This research was supported by internal Spine Research Institute funds. Co-authors included first author Eric Weston, a former Integrated Systems Engineering graduate student at Ohio State; Afton Hassett of the University of Michigan; and Safdar Khan and Tristan Weaver of Ohio State.