Understanding the clinical characteristics of patients with low back pain (LBP) who display improved lumbar multifidus (LM) muscle function after spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) may provide insight into a potentially synergistic interaction between SMT and exercise. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify the baseline historical and physical examination factors associated with increased contracted LM muscle thickness one week after SMT. Eighty-one participants with LBP underwent a baseline physical examination and ultrasound imaging assessment of the LM muscle during submaximal contraction before and one week after SMT. The relationship between baseline examination variables and 1-week change in contracted LM thickness was assessed using correlation analysis and hierarchical multiple linear regression. Four variables best predicted the magnitude of increases in contracted LM muscle thickness after SMT. When combined, these variables suggest that patients with LBP, (1) that are fairly acute, (2) have at least a moderately good prognosis without focal and irritable symptoms, and (3) exhibit signs of spinal instability, may be the best candidates for a combined SMT and lumbar stabilization exercise (LSE) treatment approach.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.