Study design: A comparative study.
Objectives: To investigate sitting postures of asymptomatic individuals and nonspecific chronic low back pain (NS-CLBP) patients (pooled and subclassified) and evaluate the importance of subclassification.
Summary of background: Currently, little evidence exists to support the hypothesis that CLBP patients sit differently from pain-free controls. Although classifying NS-CLBP patients into homogeneous subgroups has been previously emphasized, no attempts have been made to consider such groupings when examining seated posture.
Methods: Three angles (sacral tilt, lower lumbar, and upper lumbar) were measured during "usual" and "slumped" sitting in 33 NS-CLBP patients and 34 asymptomatic subjects using an electromagnetic measurement device. Before testing, NS-CLBP patients were subclassified by two blinded clinicians. Twenty patients were classified with a flexion motor control impairment and 13 with an active extension motor control impairment.
Results: No differences were found between control and NS-CLBP (pooled) patients during usual sitting. In contrast, analyses based on subclassification revealed that patients classified with an active extension pattern sat more lordotic at the symptomatic lower lumbar spine, whereas patients with a flexion pattern sat more kyphotic, when compared with healthy controls (F = 19.7; df1 = 2, df2 = 63, P < 0.001). Further, NS-CLBP patients had less ability to change their posture when asked to slump from usual sitting (t = 4.2, df = 65; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Differences in usual sitting posture were only revealed when NS-CLBP patients were subclassified. This highlights the importance of subclassifying NS-CLBP patients.