The effect of extensible and non-extensible lumbosacral orthoses on anticipatory postural adjustments in participants with low back pain and healthy controls

Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2021 Jul 4;55:102421. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2021.102421. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Wearing a lumbosacral orthosis (LSO) is known to influence spine mechanics, but less is known about how LSOs affect motor control. Whether the use of a LSO can negatively affect motor control of the lumbar spine is still under debate.

OBJECTIVE: The current study examined the immediate effects of two flexible LSOs (extensible and non-extensible) on the anticipatory postural adjustments that prepare the spine for a predictable perturbation.

DESIGN: A comparative study using a repeated measures design in a laboratory setting.

METHODS: Healthy controls (n = 20) and participants with low back pain (n = 40) performed a rapid arm flexion/extension cycle with and without these LSOs. The latency between the activations of the shoulder and different back (iliocostalis lumborum) and abdominal (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques) muscles, as measured with surface electromyography, was used as the outcome.

RESULTS: The effects, which were comparable between groups and between LSOs, were mixed, with some muscles showing significantly (p ˂ 0.05) earlier activation and others showing delayed activation with the use of a LSO, relative to the control condition. The corresponding effect sizes were low to average (Hedges’s g range: 0.17-0.48).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest a change in the motor program before task initiation, which might be generalizable to other activities of daily living or work. However, none of the effects were large, making it difficult to provide clear conclusions with regard to their clinical relevance. It remains to be tested whether these immediate adaptations in motor planning can induce long term detrimental effects to the control of lumbar stability.

PMID:34280708 | DOI:10.1016/j.msksp.2021.102421

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