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Failure to Define Low Back Pain as a Disease or an Episode Renders Research on Causality Unsuitable

By |January 10, 2018|Clinical Prediction Rule|

Failure to Define Low Back Pain as a Disease or an Episode Renders Research on Causality Unsuitable: Results of a Systematic Review

The Chiro.Org Blog


SOURCE:   Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2017 (Jan 9)

Emad M. Ardakani, Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde and Bruce F. Walker

School of Health Professions,
Murdoch University,
90 South St,
Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia


Background   Causative factors may be different for the very first onset of symptoms of the ‘disease’ of low back pain (LBP) than for ensuing episodes that occur after a pain-free period. This differentiation hinges on a life-time absence of low back pain at first onset and short-term absence for further episodes. In this systematic review, we explored whether researchers make these distinctions when investigating the causality of LBP.

Methods   A literature search of PUBMED, CINAHL, and SCOPUS databases was performed from January 2010 until September 2016 using the search terms ‘low back pain’ or ‘back pain’ and ‘risk factor’ or ‘caus*’ or ‘predict*’ or ‘onset’ or ‘first-time’ or ‘inception’ or ‘incidence’. Two reviewers extracted information on study design, types of episodes of back pain to distinguish the disease of LBP and recurring episodes, and also to determine the definitions of disease- or pain-free periods.

Results   Thirty-three articles purporting to study causes of LBP were included. Upon scrutiny, 31 of the 33 articles were unclear as to what type of causality they were studying, that of the ‘disease’ or the episode, or a mere association with LBP. Only 9 studies used a prospective study design. Five studies appeared to investigate the onset of the disease of LBP, however, only one study truly captured the first incidence of LBP, which was the result of sports injury. Six appeared to study episodes but only one clearly related to the concept of episodes. Therefore, among those 11 studies, nine included both first-time LBP and episodes of LBP. Consequently, 22 studies related to the prevalence of LBP, as they probably included a mixture of first-time, recurring and ongoing episodes without distinction.

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Do Participants with Low Back Pain who Respond to Spinal Manipulative Therapy Differ Biomechanically?

By |August 13, 2017|Clinical Prediction Rule, Low Back Pain|

Do Participants with Low Back Pain who Respond to Spinal Manipulative Therapy Differ Biomechanically From Nonresponders, Untreated Controls or Asymptomatic Controls?

The Chiro.Org Blog


SOURCE:   Spine 2015 (Sep 1); 40 (17): 1329–1337

Arnold Y. L. Wong, PT, MPhil, PhD,
Eric C. Parent, PT, PhD,
Sukhvinder S. Dhillon, MB, ChB, CCST,
Narasimha Prasad, PhD,
and Gregory N. Kawchuk, DC, PhD

Department of Physical Therapy,
University of Alberta,
Alberta, Canada


STUDY DESIGN:   Nonrandomized controlled study.

OBJECTIVE:   To determine whether patients with low back pain (LBP) who respond to spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) differ biomechanically from nonresponders, untreated controls or asymptomatic controls.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:   Some but not all patients with LBP report improvement in function after SMT. When compared with nonresponders, studies suggest that SMT responders demonstrate significant changes in spinal stiffness, muscle contraction, and disc diffusion. Unfortunately, the significance of these observations remains uncertain given methodological differences between studies including a lack of controls.

METHODS:   Participants with LBP and asymptomatic controls attended 3 sessions for 7 days. On sessions 1 and 2, participants with LBP received SMT (+LBP/+SMT, n = 32) whereas asymptomatic controls did not (-LBP/-SMT, n = 57). In these sessions, spinal stiffness and multifidus thickness ratios were obtained before and after SMT and on day 7. Apparent diffusion coefficients from lumbar discs were obtained from +LBP/+SMT participants before and after SMT on session 1 and from an LBP control group that did not receive SMT (+LBP/-SMT, n = 16). +LBP/+SMT participants were dichotomized as responders/nonresponders on the basis of self-reported disability on day 7. A repeated measures analysis of covariance was used to compare apparent diffusion coefficients among responders, nonresponders, and +LBP/-SMT subjects, as well as spinal stiffness or multifidus thickness ratio among responders, nonresponders, and -LBP/-SMT subjects.

RESULTS:   After the first SMT, SMT responders displayed statistically significant decreases in spinal stiffness and increases in multifidus thickness ratio sustained for more than 7 days; these findings were not observed in other groups. Similarly, only SMT responders displayed significant post-SMT improvement in apparent diffusion coefficients.

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How Can Latent Trajectories of Back Pain be Translated into Defined Subgroups?

By |July 6, 2017|Clinical Prediction Rule, Trajectories of Back Pain|

How Can Latent Trajectories of Back Pain be Translated into Defined Subgroups?

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SOURCE:   BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2017 (Jul 3); 18 (1): 285

Alice Kongsted, PhD, Lise Hestbaek, PhD
and Peter Kent, PhD

Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics,
Campusvej 55, DK-5230,
Odense M, Denmark.


BACKGROUND:   Similar types of trajectory patterns have been identified by Latent Class Analyses (LCA) across multiple low back pain (LBP) cohorts, but these patterns are impractical to apply to new cohorts or individual patients. It would be useful to be able to identify trajectory subgroups from descriptive definitions, as a way to apply the same definitions of mutually exclusive subgroups across populations. In this study, we investigated if the course trajectories of two LBP cohorts fitted with previously suggested trajectory subgroup definitions, how distinctly different these subgroups were, and if the subgroup definitions matched with LCA-derived patterns.

METHODS:   Weekly measures of LBP intensity and frequency during 1 year were available from two clinical cohorts. We applied definitions of 16 possible trajectory subgroups to these observations and calculated the prevalence of the subgroups. The probability of belonging to each of eight LCA-derived patterns was determined within each subgroup. LBP intensity and frequency were described within subgroups and the subgroups of ‘fluctuating’ and ‘episodic’ LBP were compared on clinical characteristics.

RESULTS:   All of 1077 observed trajectories fitted with the defined subgroups. ‘Severe episodic LBP’ was the most frequent pattern in both cohorts and ‘ongoing LBP’ was almost non-existing. There was a clear relationship between the defined trajectory subgroups and LCA-derived trajectory patterns, as in most subgroups, all patients had high probabilities of belonging to only one or two of the LCA patterns. The characteristics of the six defined subgroups with minor LBP were very similar. ‘Fluctuating LBP’ subgroups were significantly more distressed, had more intense leg pain, higher levels of activity limitation, and more negative expectations about future LBP than ‘episodic LBP’ subgroups.

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