Alan Breen

DC, PhD, FRCC - Professor, Director of the Centre for Biomechanics Research

Alan Breen is Professor of Musculoskeletal Research both in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University and at the AECC University College, where he is the Director of the Centre for Biomechanics Research. Alan is also Clinical Director for Special Imaging at the AECC University College.


Alan Breen graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1967, then travelled in North America, Australia and Europe before starting a part-time teaching post at the AECC University College. He established a chiropractic practice in Salisbury in 1974, which continues. In 1986 Alan became Director of Research at the AECC University College, focusing on musculoskeletal research and epidemiology and encouraging staff to undertake doctoral studies. In 1999 he became Director of a new multidisciplinary research institute where he continues to work.

Alan published the first epidemiology paper by a chiropractor in a medical journal in 1977, then established a clinical trial of chiropractic funded by the UK Medical Research Council. This paper had a positive outcome for chiropractors. His PhD project, which was completed in 1991, involved the invention and development of Quantitative Fluoroscopy, a technology that measures inter-vertebral motion in living subjects and which is now used to research spinal pain internationally.

Current Activity

Alan Breen is Professor of Musculoskeletal Research both in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University and at the AECC University College, where he is planning studies of the use of artificial intelligence and finite element modelling in the analysis of spine mechanics. He has supervised many doctoral students and examined several PhDs for other universities. He has produced a number of state-of-the-art book chapters and keynote international conference lectures. He reviews research papers for spine science journals, outputs being considered for submission for the UK Research Excellence Framework and grant applications for Research Councils and charities.

Alan is heading a programme of work on the individualised, dynamic biomechanical assessment of the articular spine. Since 2003, his research has been in the development, validation and clinical use of the QF technology, and its transfer into the medical diagnostics world by supporting regulatory approvals abroad. Concurrently, he has led a number of multidisciplinary and international research projects into the applications of these. This work has led to research into the detection of strain between spinal segments in patients with non-specific back pain and the discovery of biomarkers for the condition.

Areas of Interest

Areas of interest include: Musculoskeletal Research, Clinical Research, Rehabilitation, Healthcare, Pain Management, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Spine, Biomechanics, Clinical Guidelines, Process of Care.


  • DC (Canada)
  • PhD (Southampton).


  • Royal Society of Medicine (Fellow)
  • Royal College of Chiropractors (Fellow)
  • British Chiropractic Association (Fellow)
  • Bournemouth University Centre of Postgraduate Medical Research and Education (Fellow)
  • Society for Back Pain Research (Member)
  • European Spine Society (Member)
  • Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Development Group (Member)
  • Pain, Action and Interference International Research Network (Member)
  • Arthritis Research UK Musculoskeletal Pain Clinical Studies Group (Member)
  • National Institute of Health Research Mentorship for Health Research Training Fellows Scheme (Mentor).


  • The investigation of biomechanical markers for non-specific back pain.
  • Investigation of intersegmental motor control in the cervical spine.
  • The effects of a countermeasure SkinSuit to oppose intervertebral disc swelling during spaceflight. (European Space Agency).
  • Clinical relevance of dynamic lumbar intervertebral motion sharing. (National Institute of Health Research).
  • Estimation of in vivo intervertebral loading during motion using fluoroscopic and magnetic resonance imaging informed finite element models. (Chiropractic Research Council).
  • Minimal detectable change in intervertebral kinematic measures in human subjects (European Council for Chiropractic Research Excellence).
  • Interactions and relationships between muscle electrical activity and intervertebral kinematics in the lumbar spine. (European Council for Chiropractic Research Excellence).
  • Effects of spinal manipulation on the kinematics of the cervical spine. (European Chiropractors Union Research Fund).
  • Learning to improve the management of low back pain in the community (The Health Foundation).
  • Influence of the process of care on outcomes for musculoskeletal disorders in primary care. (Musculoskeletal Process of Care Collaboration).
  • Beliefs and expectations in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain (Arthritis Research UK).

View/download Alan Breen's research in the AECC University College Research Repository.

Publications (from 2011)

Breen A., Breen Ax., To D., Mior S., Howarth S. 2020 Investigator analytic repeatability of two new intervertebral motion biomarkers for chronic non-specific low back pain in a cohort of healthy controls. Chiropractic and Manual Therapies (in press)

Brownhill K, Mellor F, Breen Ax, Breen A. 2020 Passive intervertebral motion characteristics in chronic mid- to low back pain: a multivariate analysis. Medical Engineering and Physics 84:115-125.

Breen A, Mellor F, Morris A, Breen Ax. 2020 An in-vivo study exploring correlations between early-to-moderate disc degeneration and flexion mobility in the lumbar spine. European Spine Journal 20 (10):2619-2627.

Breen Ax, Breen AC. 2020 Dynamic interactions between lumbar intervertebral motion segments during forward bending. Journal of Biomechanics 102:26.

Breen Ax, Hemming R, E Claerbout E, Breen A. 2019 Comparison of the intra-subject repeatability of quantitative fluoroscopy and static radiography in the measurement of lumbar intervertebral translation. Scientific Reports 9(1).

Cholewicki J, Breen A, Popovich JM Jr, Reeves NP, Sahrmann, SA, van Dillen LR, Vleeming A, Hodges P. 2019 Can biomechanics research lead to more effective treatment for low back pain? A point-counterpoint debate. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 1-32. 

Breen Ax, Hemming R, Mellor FE, Breen A. 2019 Intra-subject repeatability of in vivo intervertebral motion parameters using quantitative fluoroscopy. European Spine Journal 28(2) 450-460.

Breen A, Vogel S., McCarthy C. 2018 Manual Therapy in the Management of Pain of Lumbar Origin in: Non-operative approaches to low back pain. Editors: Boden S. International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.

Breen A. 2018 Low back pain: Identifying sub-groups, clinical prediction rules and measuring results. Complementary therapies in clinical practice. 31:335-337.

Breen Ax, Mellor F, Breen A. 2018 Aberrant intervertebral motion in patients with treatment-resistant non-specific low back pain: a retrospective cohort study and control comparison. European Spine Journal 27:2831–2839.

Breen A. Anti-directional cervical intervertebral motion: Could it have gone any other way? Journal of Spine Surgery 2018 18:147-54. (Editorial)

Zanjani-Pour S., Meakin JR., Breen A., Breen A. 2018 Estimation of in vivo inter-vertebral loading during motion using fluoroscopic and magnetic resonance image informed finite element models. Journal of Biomechanics March 21:70: 134-139.

Breen A, Breen Ax. 2018 Uneven intervertebral motion sharing is related to disc degeneration and is greater in patients with chronic, non-specific low back pain. An in-vivo, cross-sectional cohort comparison of intervertebral dynamics using quantitative fluoroscopy. European Spine Journal 27:145–153.

du Rose A, Breen Ax, Breen A. 2018 Relationships between muscle electrical activity and the control of intervertebral motion during a forward bending task. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 43:48-54.

Carvil P., Jones M., Horne D., Ayer R. Osborne N., Breen A., Russomano T., Green D. 2017 The effect o 4-hour partial axial reloading via the Mk VI SkinSuit upon recumbent lumbar geometry and kinematics after 8-hour hyper-buoyancy flotation. 2nd Hyman Physiology Workshop Cologne. 9 Dec.

Du Rose A, Breen A. 2016 Relationships between lumbar inter-vertebral motion and lordosis in healthy adult males: A cross-sectional cohort study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 17(1):10.

Du Rose A, Breen A. 2016 Relationships between paraspinal muscle activity and lumbar inter-vertebral range of motion. Healthcare 4, 4.

Breen, A., Mellor, F., Breen, A. and Hilton, A., 2016. Intersegmental Kinematics in Patients with Persistent Back Pain: A Review of Quantitative Fluoroscopy Referrals. Orthopaedic Proceedings, 98-B (SUPP 6), 33-33.

Jones, M., Morris, A., Pope, A., Ayer, R. and A., B., 2016. Findings in back pain patients referred for Upright MRI. Bone and Joint Journal, 98-B (SUPP 6), 23.

Mellor, F., Breen, A., Thomas, P. and Thompson, P., 2016. Upper and lower cutoff limits for static and dynamic lumbar motion in non-specific chronic low back pain. Bone and Joint Journal, 98-B (SUPP 6), 35.

Breen, Ax. and Breen, A., 2016. Accuracy and repeatability of quantitative fluoroscopy for the measurement of sagittal plane translation and instantaneous axis of rotation in the lumbar spine. Medical Engineering and Physics, 38, P607-614

Branney, J. and Breen, A. C., 2015. Does inter-vertebral range of motion increase after spinal manipulation for non-specific neck pain? A prospective cohort study. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 22:24.

Mellor F.E., Thomas, P., Thompson, P. and Breen, A. C., 2014. Proportional lumbar spine inter-vertebral motion patterns: A comparison of patients with chronic non-specific low back pain and healthy controls. European Spine Journal, 23 (10), 2059-2067.

Mellor, F. E. and Breen, A. 2014. Discrimination of Biomechanical Back Pain Patient Subgroups from Continuous Inter-Vertebral Motion Data - A Protocol. Bone and Joint Journal, 96-B (Supp 4), 5.

Mellor, F. E., Thomas, P. and Breen, A., 2014. Moving back: The radiation dose received from lumbar spine quantitative fluoroscopy compared to lumbar spine radiographs with suggestions for dose reduction. Radiography, 20, 251-257.

Breen, A., Mellor, F. and Breen, Ax., 2013. Lumbar Intervertebral Motion in Vivo: A Preliminary Comparison of Recumbent and Weight Bearing Motion Patterns in Adult Males. Bone and Joint Journal, 95-B (Supp 17 20).

Georgy, E. E., Carr, E.C.J., Breen, A. 2013. Met or matched expectations: what accounts for a successful back pain consultation in primary care? Health Expectations 16(2):143-154.

Georgy, E. E., Carr, E.C.J., Breen, A 2013. Back pain management in primary care: patients' and doctors' expectations questionnaire. Quality in Primary Care, 21(2):113-22.

Breen, A. C., Teyhen, D. S., Mellor, F. E., Breen, Ax. C., Wong, K. and Deitz, A., 2012. Measurement of inter-vertebral motion using quantitative fluoroscopy: Report of an international forum and proposal for use in the assessment of degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine. Advances in Orthopaedics, 1-10.

Clark, C., Khattab, A., Carr, E., Breen, A. and Grahame, R., 2012a. Functional Impairments in Patients with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and Developmental Coordination Disorder. Paper presented at the IFOMPT Rendez-vous of Hands and Minds - September 30th to October 5th, Quebec City, Canada.

Clark, C., Thomas, S., Carr, E. and Breen, A., 2012b. Development and Validation of the Functional Difficulties Questionnaire for Assessment Developmental Coordination Disorder in Adults. Paper presented at the IFOMPT A Rendez-Vous of Hands and Minds - September 30th - October 5th, Quebec City, Canada.

Mieritz, R. M., Bronfort, G., Kawchuk, G., Breen, A. and Hartvigsen, J., 2012. Reliability and Measurement Error of 3-Dimensional Regional Lumbar Motion Measures: A Systematic Review. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 35 (8), 645-656.

Parsons, S., Harding, G., Breen, A., Foster, N., Pincus, T., Vogel, S., Underwood, M., 2012. Will shared decision making between patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors improve patient care? Family Practice, 29 (2), 203-212.

Breen, A., 2011. Closer to the bone: Functional musculoskeletal disorders - Time to improve objective assessment. Public Service Review: European Science & Technology, (12), 254-255.