Multifidus size and symmetry among chronic LBP and healthy asymptomatic subjects

Julie Hides, Craig Gilmore, Warren Stanton and Emma Bohlscheid

The purpose of this study was to compare chronic LBP patients and asymptomatic subjects on measures of multifidus size and symmetry and compare the results to previous findings in studies of acute LBP. Data were obtained from 40 asymptomatic subjects without a prior history of LBP and a retrospective audit was undertaken of records from 50 chronic low back pain patients presenting to a back pain clinic. Results showed that chronic LBP patients had significantly smaller multifidus size than asymptomatic subjects. The smaller multifidus size was ipsilateral to the reported side of pain in all cases. The results of this study support previous findings in studies considering acute LBP that the pattern of multifidus muscle atrophy in chronic LBP patients is localized rather than generalized. Furthermore, between side asymmetry may be seen in chronic LBP patients presenting with a unilateral pain distribution.

This study highlights the potential need for multifidus assessment and re-education in chronic LBP patients as well as acute LBP sufferers.

Manual Therapy, 2008, 13(1), 43-49

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