Edward F. Owens Jr., James W. DeVocht, M. Ram Gudavalli, David G. Wilder and William C. Meeker
A system for measuring posterior-to-anterior spinal stiffness (PAS) was developed for use in clinical trials of manipulation for low back pain (LBP). The current report is an analysis of the baseline PAS data, with particular emphasis on relationships between PAS and clinical and demographic characteristics. 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. The authors conclude that 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.