A non-randomized clinical control trial of Harrison mirror image methods for correcting trunk list (lateral translations of the thoracic cage) in patients with chronic low back pain

Eur Spine J. 2005 Mar;14(2):155-62. doi: 10.1007/s00586-004-0796-z. Epub 2004 Oct 27.


Spinal trunk list is a common occurrence in clinical practice, but few conservative methods of spinal rehabilitation have been reported. This study is a non-randomized clinical control trial of 63 consecutive retrospective subjects undergoing spinal rehabilitation and 23 prospective volunteer controls. All subjects presented with lateral thoracic-cage-translation posture (trunk list) and chronic low back pain. Initial and follow-up numerical pain rating scales (NRS) and AP lumbar radiographs were obtained after a mean of 11.5 weeks of care (average of 36 visits) for the treatment group and after a mean of 37.5 weeks for the control group. The radiographs were digitized and analyzed for a horizontal displacement of T12 from the second sacral tubercle, verticality of the lumbar spine at the sacral base, and any dextro/levo angle at mid-lumbar spine. Treatment subjects received the Harrison mirror image postural correction methods, which included an opposite trunk-list exercise and a new method of opposite trunk-list traction. Control subjects did not receive spinal rehabilitation therapy, but rather self-managed their back pain. For the treatment group, there were statistically significant improvements (approximately 50%) in all radiographic measurements and a decrease in pain intensity (NRS: 3.0 to 0.8). For the control group, no significant radiographic and NRS differences were found, except in trunk-list displacement of T12 to S1, worsened by 2.4 mm. Mirror image (opposite posture) postural corrective exercises and a new method of trunk-list traction resulted in 50% reduction in trunk list and were associated with nearly resolved pain intensity in this patient population. The findings warrant further study in the conservative treatment of chronic low back pain and spinal disorders.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Traction*
  • Treatment Outcome