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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1992 Mar-Apr; 15(3): 145-58.

Lumbar motion trends and correlation with low back pain. Part I. A roentgenological evaluation of coupled lumbar motion in lateral bending.

Haas M, Nyiendo J, Peterson C, Thiel H, Sellers T, Dal Mas E, Kirton C, Cassidy D.

Research Department, Western States Chiropractic College, Portland, OR 97230.

OBJECTIVE: A radiographic study was undertaken to describe the relationship between coupled lumbar motion in lateral bending and the presence of low back pain symptomatology, evaluate trends of coupled motion and determine if these trends were attributable to chance confluence of independent motions. DESIGN: Survey. SETTING: Chiropractic college student health center and private chiropractic clinic. PARTICIPANTS: 249 subjects: 114 with low back pain, 29 asymptomatic with no history and 106 asymptomatic with history. Of these, 194 were freshman volunteers and 55 were new private clinic low back pain patients. INTERVENTIONS: None. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Lumbar segmental coupled motion categories according to the scheme of Cassidy and Grice, as well as a modified scheme. RESULTS: Statistical analysis demonstrated no significant relationship (p = .01) between coupled lumbar motion and low back pain. When viewed intersegmentally, approximately half of all lumbar motion was type II; symmetric motion was rare and attributable to chance confluence of individual segmental motion. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that back pain is not an indication for the routine use of lateral bending films for the identification of abnormal coupled motion. Furthermore, each segmental categorization appears to be independent of contralateral categorization as well as motion at all other segmental levels. It is also suggested that type II motion cannot be ruled out as a normal variant. Finally, the ubiquity of coupled motion asymmetry suggests that symmetry must be reevaluated as a criterion for normal spinal function.

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