The goals of this study were to compare the steadiness index of spinal regions during single-leg standing in older adults with and without chronic low back pain (LBP) and to correlate measurements of steadiness index with the performance of clinical balance tests. Thirteen community-dwelling older adults (aged 55 years or above) with chronic LBP and 13 age- and gender-matched asymptomatic volunteers took part in this study. Data collection was conducted in a university research laboratory. Measurements were steadiness index of spinal regions (trunk, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and pelvis) during single-leg standing including relative holding time (RHT) and relative standstill time (RST), and clinical balance tests (timed up and go test and 5-repetition sit to stand test). The LBP group had a statistically significantly smaller RHT than the control group, regardless of one leg stance on the painful or non-painful sides. The RSTs on the painful side leg in the LBP group did not exhibit statistically significant difference from the average RSTs of both legs in the control group; however, the RSTs on the non-painful side leg in the LBP group were statistically significantly smaller than those in the control group for the trunk, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine. No statistically significant intra-group differences were found in the RHTs and RSTs between the painful and non-painful side legs in the LBP group. Measurements of clinical balance tests also exhibited insignificant weak to moderate correlations with steadiness index. In conclusion, older adults with chronic LBP demonstrated reduced spinal steadiness not only in the symptomatic lumbar spine but also in the other spinal regions within the kinetic chain of the spine. When treating older adults with chronic LBP, clinicians might also need to examine their balance performance and spinal steadiness while performing balance challenging tests.
Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.