Jo Nijs

Jo Nijs
Vrije Universiteit Brussel | VUB · Physiotherapy, Human Physiology & Anatomy (KIMA)

PT, MT, PhD
Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Guest Professor at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden)

About

493
Publications
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Introduction
Our Pain in Motion international research group (www.paininmotion.be) studies the interactions between pain and body movement, and focusses on central sensitization in various chronic pain disorders (e.g. whiplash, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, low back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome).

Publications

Publications (493)
Article
Even though nociceptive pathology has often long subsided, the brain of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain has typically acquired a protective (movement-related) pain memory. Exercise therapy for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain is often hampered by such pain memories. Here the authors explain how musculoskeletal therapists can al...
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An increasing number of studies have examined how the immune system of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis, responds to exercise. The objective of the present study was to systematically review the scientific literature addressing exercise-induced immunological changes in CFS patients compared to healthy contr...
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Introduction: Central sensitization (CS) is present in a variety of chronic pain disorders, including whiplash, temporomandibular disorders, low back pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, headache, lateral epicondylalgia among others. In spite of our increased understanding of the mechanisms involved in CS pain, its treatment remains a challenging i...
Article
Quality improvement is now a central tenet in physiotherapy care, and quality indicators (QIs), as measurable elements of care, have been applied to analyze and evaluate the quality of physiotherapy care over the past two decades. QIs, based on Donabedian’s model of quality of care, provide a foundation for measuring (improvements in) quality of ph...
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Individuals who survived coronavirus disease, 2019 (COVID-19), often have symptoms of sensitization, but the extent to which these symptoms relate to serological biomarkers remains unclear. Therefore, this secondary analysis evaluated the association between serological biomarkers at hospital admission with sensitization-associated post-COVID-19 sy...
Article
The majority of people who have nonspecific chronic spinal pain (nCSP) report comorbid insomnia. However, in current treatment strategies for nCSP, insomnia is usually not addressed. Considering the bidirectional interaction between pain and sleep and its underlying psychophysiological mechanisms, insomnia may increase the risk of developing advers...
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Objective: To investigate the association between demographic, clinical, psychological, cognitive, and health-related variables and the Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI) in previously hospitalized COVID-19 survivors exhibiting "de novo" post-COVID pain. Methods: Seventy-seven (n=77) COVID-19 survivors with "de novo" post-COVID pain completed...
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We aimed to explore a path model identified using a structural equation model (SEM) which best explains the multivariate contributions of sensitization, sensitivity, and emotional variables to clinical severity in women with FMS. Pain features, the Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI), painDETECT, S-LANSS, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale...
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Chronic pain has a massive personal and socioeconomic impact and remains a challenge for many clinicians around the world [...]
Article
Background: Whiplash injuries typically occur from a motor vehicle collision and lead to chronic whiplash-associated disorders (CWAD) in 20% to 50% of cases. Changes in neurotransmission, metabolism, and networks seem to play a role in the pathogenic mechanism of CWAD. Objectives: To further elucidate the functional brain alterations, a neurophy...
Article
Objectives: Quantitative Sensory Testing (QST) is used to test somatosensory functioning in patients with low back pain (LBP) and most performed on people with chronic LBP in secondary/tertiary health care facilities. Studies using QST-testing on LBP populations in primary care are scarce. Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI) measures central sen...
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Purpose The primary goal of this study was to compare the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of people with lumbar radiculopathy to age- and sex-adjusted population norms. Additionally, it aimed to explore the associations between the HRQoL difference scores and measures related to pain cognitions, pain intensity, and endogenous nociceptive mod...
Article
Objective: To estimate the effects of musculoskeletal rehabilitation interventions on movement-evoked pain and to explore the methods/protocols used to evaluate movement-evoked pain in adults with musculoskeletal pain. Design: Systematic review with meta-analysis. Literature search: Three electronic databases (PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopu...
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Evidence for the relationship between chronic pain and nutrition is mounting, and chronic pain following cancer is gaining recognition as a significant area for improving health care in the cancer survivorship population. This review explains why nutrition should be considered to be an important component in chronic pain management in cancer surviv...
Article
Objective Multidimensional aspects of pain have raised awareness about cognitive appraisals, such as perceived injustice (PI) and pain catastrophizing (PC). It has been demonstrated that they play an important role in patients’ pain experience. However, the mediating effect of these appraisals has not been investigated in breast cancer survivors (B...
Article
: Physical therapists have unique education in the comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment and treatment of chronic pain and its mechanisms. Recently, physical therapists have raised awareness regarding the impact of nutrition on promoting health and managing noncommunicable diseases. Robust evidence supports the implementation of nutrition in ph...
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This review discusses chronic pain, multiple modifiable lifestyle factors, such as stress, insomnia, diet, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity, and the relationship between these lifestyle factors and pain after cancer. Chronic pain is known to be a common consequence of cancer treatments, which considerably impacts cancer s...
Article
Background: Chronic Whiplash Associated Disorders (CWAD) are characterized by long-lasting symptoms of neck pain occurring after an acceleration-deceleration injury. Central sensitization (CS) has been suggested as the possible underlying mechanism for these symptoms, and is characterized by changes in the central nervous system. Besides CS, psych...
Article
Background Current evidence supports the use of pain neuroscience education (PNE) in several chronic pain populations. However, the effects of PNE at group level are rather small and little is known about the influence of personal factors (e.g. level of education [LoE]). Objective To examine whether the effectiveness of PNE differs in chronic spin...
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Background The importance of cognitive appraisals in the effectiveness of pain coping is well established. Two key variables in these appraisal processes are pain catastrophizing (PC) and perceived injustice (PI), which are known to increase the risk of long-term disability and aggravate the pain-related distress through maladaptive behavioral resp...
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Although autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) has been proposed, conflicting evidence makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding ANS activity at rest in ME/CFS patients. Although severe exercise intolerance is one of the core features of ME/CFS, little attempts have bee...
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The Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI) measurement properties in patients having nonspecific, noncancer pain are well-established. However, studies examining the reliability and validity of either the CSI or the Central Sensitization Inventory short-form version (CSI-9) in breast cancer survivors (BCS) are scarce. The purpose was to evaluate con...
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Chronic spinal pain, including both neck and low back pain, is a common disabling disorder in which sleep problems are frequently reported as a comorbidity. The complex processes of both sleep and chronic pain seem to have overlapping mechanisms, which may explain their often established bidirectional relationship. This systematic review aims to in...
Article
Objective: This explorative study investigates the moderating effect of sex and baseline pain characteristics on the effectiveness of preoperative pain neuroscience education (PNE) plus knee joint mobilization versus biomedical education plus knee joint mobilization in patients who have knee osteoarthritis and are scheduled to undergo total knee a...
Article
Objectives: Many people living with musculoskeletal pain conditions experience a range of negative biopsychosocial responses to physical activity, referred to as increased sensitivity to physical activity (SPA), that may undermine successful rehabilitation. This exploratory study aims to provide the first prospective analysis of the potential prog...
Article
Amongst adults with chronic pain, overweight and obesity are highly prevalent. The association between chronic pain and overweight is driven by several explanations, including increased biomechanical load, changes in the gut microbiome, and low-grade (neuro)inflammation. Moreover, the link between overweight, obesity and chronic pain can best be co...
Article
Background: Chronic pain is one of the most often seen, but often undertreated, sequelae in survivors of cancer. Also, this population often shows significant nutritional deficiencies, which can affect quality of life, general health status, and even risk of relapse. Given the influence of nutrition on brain plasticity and function, which in turn...
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Background: The presence of pain decreases survival rates in cancer. Pain management in clinical settings is often suboptimal and secondary to other cancer-related treatments, leaving many people undertreated. Opioid use is associated with side effects and decreased survival rate in cancer patients. Hence, there is an urgent need for considering f...
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Recently, the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) released clinical criteria and a grading system for nociplastic pain affecting the musculoskeletal system. These criteria replaced the 2014 clinical criteria for predominant central sensitization (CS) pain and accounted for clinicians' need to identify (early) and correctly classi...
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Insomnia is a major problem in the chronic spinal pain (CSP) population and has a negative impact on health and well-being. While insomnia is commonly reported, underlying mechanisms explaining the relation between sleep and pain are still not fully understood. Additionally, no reviews regarding the prevention of insomnia and/or associated factors...
Article
Background: Although diet is an essential aspect of human health, the link between diet and pain is still not well understood. Preclinical animal research provides information to understand underlying mechanisms that allow identifying the needs for human research. Objectives: This study aims to give a systematic overview of the current evidence fro...
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Pediatric chronic pain is a challenging problem for children and their families, although it is still under-recognized and under-treated. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a pain neuroscience education program for children (PNE4Kids) delivered to healthy children aged 8 to 12 years old and attended by their parents would result in im...
Article
Patients classified as having whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) grade II, which reflects approximately 93% of patients with WAD who are commonly managed by health care professionals, exhibit both physical (eg, pain and disability) and psychological (eg, fear of movement, anxiety, posttraumatic stress) problems that, in approximately 50% of cases,...
Article
Objective To explore the ability of a self-report activity diary to measure the physical activity level (PAL) in female patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and whether illness-related complaints, health-related quality of life domains (HRQOL) or demographic factors are associated with discrepancies between self-reported and objectively mea...
Article
Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability globally and associated with enormous health-care costs. The discrepancy between the extent of tissue damage and the magnitude of pain, disability, and associated symptoms represents a diagnostic challenge for rheumatology specialists. Central sensitisation, defined as an amplification of neural signall...
Article
Background Pain neuroscience education (PNE) combined with cognition-targeted exercises is an effective treatment for people with chronic spinal pain (CSP). However, it is unclear as to why some patients benefit more from this treatment. We expect that patients with more pronounced maladaptive pain cognitions, such as kinesiophobia, might show poor...
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Oxidative stress can be induced by various stimuli and altered in certain conditions, including exercise and pain. Although many studies have investigated oxidative stress in relation to either exercise or pain, the literature presents conflicting results. Therefore, this review critically discusses existing literature about this topic, aiming to p...
Article
Objectives. The goal of this study was to identify central sensitization-related symptom severity subgroups in a large multicountry sample composed of patients with chronic pain and pain-free individuals using the Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI). Methods. A large, pooled international (n= 8 countries) sample of chronic pain patients plus heal...
Article
Objectives Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is a common complaint in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). MSK pain in IBD has previously demonstrated association with symptoms of central sensitization; however it is uncertain whether these symptoms are influenced simply by the presence of MSK pain and/or IBD. Primary aim of this study was to...
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Synopsis: Society is mired in a serious health care crisis regarding the pain and opioid epidemics. Pain neuroscience education (PNE) has gained support in the last 20 years as an intervention to help people manage their chronic pain condition. In this Viewpoint, we argue exercise and movement must be the primary intervention for chronic pain cond...
Article
Background To address the need for a better treatment of chronic whiplash associated disorders (WAD), a contemporary neuroscience approach can be proposed. Objective To examine the effectiveness of a contemporary neuroscience approach, comprising pain neuroscience education, stress management, and cognition-targeted exercise therapy versus convent...
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Background: Whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) constitute a state of health characterized by a wide diversity of symptoms as a result of impairments of functions, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Patient-reported outcome measurements (PROMs) and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) seem appropriate when describing and evaluating...
Data
Operationalisation of variables of the clinical reasoning process at several different levels (nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio).
Article
Two factors related to the continuation of persistent pain are pain catastrophizing and illness perceptions. Pain neuroscience education is known to positively influence both in patients with persistent pain. As the integration of pain neuroscience education in monodisciplinary physiotherapy treatments is effective, integration in transdisciplinary...
Raw Data
Supplementary file 1. Overview of variables of context (n=9), process (n=9), outcome (n=7) and structure (n=2) indicators for physiotherapy in patients with Whiplash-Associated Disorders (WAD). Supplementary file 2. Variables per context indicator in patients with Whiplash-Associated Disorders (WAD). Supplementary file 3.Variables per process indic...
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Pain conditions are among the leading causes of global disability, impacting on global healthcare utilization (HCU). Health seeking behavior might be influenced by cognitive and emotional factors (CEF), which can be tackled by specific therapies. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the evidence concerning associations between CEF...
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Background Prescription behavior in low back pain (LBP) differs between physical therapists with a biomedical versus a biopsychosocial belief, despite the presence of clinical guidelines. Objective To examine (1) the beliefs of physical therapy students and their adherence to clinical LBP guidelines in Belgium and the Netherlands; (2) whether the...
Article
Introduction: Few treatment programs for chronic pain nowadays take dietary pattern or adipose status into account. Areas covered: An important role of neuro-inflammation in chronic pain is now well-established, at least in part due to increased central nervous system glia activation. Based on preclinical studies, it is postulated that the interact...
Article
Background Epigenetics of neurotrophic factors holds the potential to unravel the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of complex conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This study explored the role of brain‐derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) genetics, epigenetics, and protein expression in patients with both CFS and comorbid fibrom...
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Three promising directions for improving care for osteoarthritis (OA) include novel education strategies to target unhelpful illness and treatment beliefs; methods to enhance the efficacy of exercise interventions; and innovative, brain-directed treatments. Here we explain that each of those three promising directions can be combined through a para...
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This article explores the effectiveness of a newly developed Pain Neuroscience Education program for children (PNE4Kids) with functional abdominal pain disorder (FAPD). Children (6–12 years) with FAPD were randomly assigned to 1) the experimental group (n = 14), participating in one hypnotherapy session (i.e., usual care) and one additional PNE4Kid...
Article
Background With its high temporal resolution, electroencephalography (EEG), a technique that records electrical activity of cortical neuronal cells, is a potentially suitable technique to investigate human somatosensory processing. By using EEG, the processing of (nociceptive) stimuli can be investigated, along with the functionality of the nocicep...
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Background: Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and chronic whiplash associated disorders (cWAD) present a reduced ability to activate central descending nociceptive inhibition after exercise, compared to measurements before exercise. It was hypothesised that a dysfunctional motor-induced inhibition of nociception partly explains this dys...
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Background Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide. The therapeutic management of patients with chronic LBP is challenging. Objectives The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of heat and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) combined on pain relief in participants with chronic LBP. Methods Fifty part...
Article
Editor—In a previous editorial, which focused on the importance of the link between nutritional neurobiology and central sensitisation in patients with chronic pain,1 we proposed a diet-induced neuroinflammation model as a possible mechanism of chronic pain. It is essential to understand the role of nutritional factors such as diet and dietary patt...
Article
Objective: Laser-evoked potentials (LEPs) are among the reliable neurophysiological tools to investigate patients with neuropathic pain, as they can provide an objective account of the functional status of thermo-nociceptive pathways. The goal of this study was to explore the functioning of the nociceptive afferent pathways by examining LEPs in pa...
Article
Background: In the context of interventions aimed at reducing pain, disability and maladaptive pain cognitions in chronic neck pain, it is hypothesized that patients who have greater symptom reduction, possibly also demonstrate greater improvement in cervical motor output. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the effect of pain neurosci...
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Background: Quality indicators (QIs) are measurable elements of practice performance and may relate to context, process, outcome and structure. A valid set of QIs have been developed, reflecting the clinical reasoning used in primary care physiotherapy for patients with whiplash-associated disorders (WAD). Donabedian's model postulates relationshi...