Structure-Specific Movement Patterns in Patients With Chronic Low Back Dysfunction Using Lumbar Combined Movement Examination

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Abstract

Objective

A test-retest cohort study was conducted to assess the use of a novel computer-aided, combined movement examination (CME) to measure change in low back movement after pain management intervention in 17 cases of lumbar spondylosis. Additionally we desired to use a CME normal reference range (NRR) to compare and contrast movement patterns identified from 3 specific structural pathologic conditions: intervertebral disc, facet joint, and nerve root compression.

Methods

Computer-aided CME was used before and after intervention, in a cohort study design, to record lumbar range of movement along with pain, disability, and health self-report questionnaires in 17 participants who received image-guided facet, epidural, and/or rhizotomy intervention. In the majority of cases, CME was reassessed after injection together with 2 serial self-reports after an average of 2 and 14 weeks. A minimal clinically important difference of 30% was used to interpret meaningful change in self-reports. A CME NRR (n = 159) was used for comparison with the 17 cases. Post hoc observation included subgrouping cases into 3 discrete pathologic conditions, intervertebral disc, facet dysfunction, and nerve root compression, in order to report intergroup differences in CME movement.

Results

Seven of the 17 participants stated that a “combined” movement was their most painful CME direction. Self-report outcome data indicated that 4 participants experienced significant improvement in health survey, 5 improved by ≥30% on low back function, and 8 reported that low back pain was more bothersome than stiffness, 6 of whom achieved the minimal clinically important difference for self-reported pain. Subgrouping of cases into structure-specific groups provided insight to different CME movement patterns.

Conclusion

The use of CME assists in identifying atypical lumbar movement relative to an age and sex NRR. Data from this study, exemplified by representative case studies, provide preliminary evidence for distinct intervertebral disc, facet joint, and nerve root compression CME movement patterns in cases of chronic lumbar spondylosis.

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