The effect of age on lumbar range of motion: A systematic review.

Intolo P, Milosavljevic S, Baxter DG, Carman AB, Pal P, Munn J

This study was a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the effect of age on lumbar range of motion (ROM). Assessment of lumbar ROM is commonly used in spinal clinical examination. Although known to reduce with advancing age, it is unclear how this occurs across different age bands; how this compares between movement planes; and what differences exist between males and females. Ten electronic databases were searched to find studies matching predetermined inclusion criteria. Methodological quality was assessed with a quality assessment tool for quantitative studies. Evidence for effect of age on ROM in all planes was investigated with meta-analyses. Sixteen studies met inclusion criteria with results showing age-related reductions in flexion, extension and lateral flexion particularly from 40 to 50 and after 60 years of age.

There was very little age effect on lumbar rotation. There is strong evidence for a non-linear age-related reduction in lumbar sagittal and coronal ROM after 40 years of age that also appears to be asymmetric in the coronal plane. These factors should be considered during the evaluation of spinal ROM in patients who present with lumbar disorders.

Manual Therapy, 2009 Sep 1, online article ahead of print

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