METHODS: Posterior-to-anterior spinal stiffness measurements were recorded over the spinous processes of the lumbar spines from patients who had LBP. The system uses electronic sensors to record displacement and force, whereas a human operator provides the force of indentation. Clinical and outcome measures were compared with spinal stiffness.
RESULTS: We recruited 192 patients (89 female and 103 male; average age, 40.0 years; SD, 9.4 years). The average Roland-Morris score was 9.7 (SD, 3.2) on a 24-point scale. The Visual Analog Scale pain scores were 55.7 (SD, 20.9) on a 100-mm scale. Stiffness values ranged from 4.16 to 39.68 N/mm (mean, 10.80 N/mm; SD, 3.72 N/mm). Females' lumbar spines were, on the average, 2 N/mm more compliant than males (P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: The PAS system of computer-monitored equipment with human operation performed well in this clinical study of LBP. Spinal stiffness was found to be different between males and females, and age and body mass index were related to PAS. We found no significant relationship between the severity or chronicity of the LBP complaint and spinal stiffness. There was little agreement between the stiff or tender segments identified by the clinicians using palpation and the segment that measured most stiff using the PAS device.
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