The effectiveness of spinal manipulation versus spinal manipulation in conjunction with core stabilisation exercises in the treatment of mechanical low back pain
Boden, Langley Nicholas
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Low back pain is estimated to effect 60-90% of the world's population sometime during their lives while 20-30% of people suffer from low back pain at any given time (Cassidy and Burton, 1992:3). Locally, epidemiological studies into low back pain have revealed incidence rates of 57.6% amongst black South Africans (Van der Meulen, 1997) and between 70 and 80% amongst Indians and Coloureds (Docrat, 1999). The use of spinal manipulation with the emphasis on restoring joint mobility, has been proven to be one of the most effective and cost effective approaches in the management low back pain of a mechanical origin (Di Fabio, 1992). McMorland (2000), showed in a study of 199 patients, that spinal manipulation resulted in an average of 52.5% and 52.9% reduction in low back pain and disability respectively. Panjabi (1992:1) has postulated a theory of a 'neutral zone' around which the passive lumbar spine operates. He describes the neutral zone as a region of intervertebral motion around the neutral posture where little resistance is offered by the passive spinal column. It is, according to Panjabi (1992:1), possible for this neutral zone to increase with injury to the spinal column or with weakness of stabilising muscles, which could result in low back pain. The trunk muscles therefore have to be able to co-contract isometrically to control the neutral zone and protect the spinal tissue from excessive motion (Richardson et aI.1990). The transversus abdominis muscle and multifidus muscle have been identified as playing an important role in the complex synergistic interaction of the trunk (Norris, 1995). The above concept involving muscles attempting to maintain a neutral zone is commonly referred to as 'core stabilisation' (Norris, 1995).