The effect of spinal immobilization on healthy volunteers

Ann Emerg Med. 1994 Jan;23(1):48-51. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(94)70007-9.


Study objective: To determine the effects of standard spinal immobilization on a group of healthy volunteers with respect to induced pain and discomfort.

Design: Prospective study.

Setting: University teaching hospital.

Type of participants: Twenty-one healthy volunteers with no history of back disease.

Interventions: Subjects were placed in standard backboard immobilization for a 30-minute period. Number and severity of immediate and delayed symptoms were determined.

Measurements and main results: One hundred percent of subjects developed pain within the immediate observation period. Occipital headache and sacral, lumbar, and mandibular pain were the most frequent symptoms. Fifty-five percent of subjects graded their symptoms as moderate to severe. Twenty-nine percent of subjects developed additional symptoms over the next 48 hours.

Conclusion: Standard spinal immobilization may be a cause of pain in an otherwise healthy subject.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Injuries / therapy*