OBJECTIVE: To use a previously validated dynamic mechanical impedance procedure to quantify changes in PA dynamic spinal stiffness at rest and during lumbar isotonic extension tasks in patients with low back pain (LBP).
METHODS: Thirteen patients with LBP underwent a dynamic spinal stiffness assessment in the prone-resting position and again during lumbar extensor efforts. Stiffness assessments were obtained using a handheld impulsive mechanical device equipped with an impedance head (load cell and accelerometer). PA manipulative thrusts (approximately 150 N, <5 milliseconds) were delivered to skin overlying the L3 left and right transverse processes (TPs) and to the L3 spinous process (SP) in a predefined order (left TP, SP, right TP) while patients were at rest and again during prone-lying lumbar isotonic extension tasks. Dynamic spinal stiffness characteristics were determined from force and acceleration measurements using the apparent mass (peak force/peak acceleration, kg). Apparent mass measurements for the resting and active lumbar isotonic task trials of each patient were compared using a 2-tailed, paired t test.
RESULTS: A significant increase in the PA dynamic spinal stiffness was noted for thrusts over the SP (apparent mass [17.0%], P=.0004) during isotonic trunk extension tasks compared with prone resting, but no statistically significant changes in apparent mass were noted for the same measures over the TPs.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings add support to the significance of the trunk musculature and spinal posture in providing increased spinal stability.
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