Spinal pain is a very common musculoskeletal condition, with a one-year prevalence of up to 43% in the general population. Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is an evidence-based treatment for spinal pain and is often used based on a clinician’s ability to identify a ‘dysfunctional’ spinal level using static or in-motion palpation to assess movement. Typically, clinicians assess for the quality of motion and the patient’s pain response, while also potentially comparing to past experience assessing the same spinal level in other patients (or, the same patient). Several factors have been shown to influence the clinician’s sensations or tissue behaviour during this assessment (such as patient anthropometrics, position, breathing, contact area, applied load, velocity and angulation), which may explain for conflicting evidence on the reliability and validity of palpation. Mechanical devices allow for the standardization of assessment of spinal stiffness by gradually applying a specific load over a targeted spinous process with a controlled velocity.

Two studies have demonstrated an association between an immediate decrease in lumbar spine stiffness following lumbopelvic SMT and a clinically significant improvement in disability; however, the effect on thoracic spine pain (TSP) remains unknown. As such, the main objective of this study was to compare thoracic spinal stiffness between healthy subjects and those with chronic TSP, and to evaluate the association between spinal stiffness and both muscle activity and pain intensity, in order to attempt to better understand the mechanisms by which spinal stiffness could be modulated. Finally, the within- and between-day reliability of this measurement was evaluated in a subgroup of participants…LOG IN OR SUBSCRIBE TO ACCESS THE FULL REVIEW!


“Spinal Stiffness Changes with Chronic Thoracic Pain – Correlation with Pain & Muscle Activity”

This paper was published in PLoS One (2018) and this Review is posted in Recent Reviews, Thoracic Spine - Manipulation/Mobilization, Clinical Testing & Procedures and the 2019 Archive.
thoracic spine

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