Although patients with chronic pain are often considered to have reduced levels of everyday physical activity, data on their activity levels are scarce and inconclusive. Therefore, this study explored whether patients with chronic pain have reduced activity levels, as objectively measured with an activity monitor. The activity monitor is based on long-term ambulatory monitoring of signals from body-fixed accelerometers during everyday life, aimed at assessment of mobility-related activities. Measurements with the monitor were performed during a weekday (24 h) in 18 patients with chronic pain and compared with measurements obtained from 18 gender and age matched healthy comparison subjects. The mean (SD) age of the patients was 44 (11) years, and the mean (SD) duration of their complaints was 8 (7) years. Compared with the healthy subjects, the duration of dynamic activities was not significantly reduced (p = 0.10) in the patient group. Mean (SD) intensity of everyday physical activity was lower (p = 0.03) in the patients than in the healthy comparison subjects (0.021 [0.006] g versus 0.026 [0.004] g), and patients spent more time lying down (47.0 [10.2]% versus 34.3 [5.6] %; p = 0.000) and less time sitting (29.2 [8.9]% versus 36.4 [9.3]%; p = 0.03) than the healthy comparison subjects. In spite of significant differences between patients and healthy comparison subjects for some aspects of the activity pattern (which may reflect pain behaviour), the impact of chronic pain on everyday physical activity was relatively small.

Ambulatory accelerometry, Chronic pain, Everyday activity, Mobility,
European Journal of Pain
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

van den Berg-Emons, H.J.G, Schasfoort, F.C, de Vos, D.R, Bussmann, J.B.J, & Stam, H.J. (2007). Impact of chronic pain on everyday physical activity. European Journal of Pain, 11(5), 587–593. doi:10.1016/j.ejpain.2006.09.003