Lumbar spine mobilization and manipulation


Lumbar spine mobilization and manipulation

The term mobilization is usually associated with low-velocity rhythmic movements applied in short or large amplitudes, while manipulation involves high-velocity movements applied over small amplitudes.1

According to Maitland spinal manipulative therapy includes techniques based on joint manipulation and mobilization, the main difference being the amplitude and velocity of the force applied to the vertebrae.1

Effects of mobilization and manipulation
Recent studies have shown that spinal manipulation can activate an endogenous, descending, pain-inhibitory system, resulting not only in manipulation-induced hypoalgesia but also in sympatho-excitation and motor effects.2-5
Introduction: Lumbar spine
Every year one in five adults will have low back pain.6 The back is the second most frequent location

of pain.7 The most common structural sources of chronic back pain (LBP) are the intervertebral disc, the ZJs and the SIJ.12 These structures refer into the pelvis, groin, and lower extremity. Waddell

has been cited that 80-90% of LBP attacks resolve within 6 weeks14, but in fact he refers to return to work – not cessation of pain.15

Range of motion of the lumbar spine
Movement Flexion Extension Left side bending Right side bending Left axial rotation Right axial rotation
Pearcy and Hindle8 75.6 23.0 27.9 28.5 16.0 15.4
Hindle et al.9 74.6 26.8 29.0 29.0 15.0 15.0
Peach et al.10 71.6 N.A. 29.7 30.8 16.6 15.6
Russell et al.11 75.1 25.8 28 28 16.4 16.4




Physical Examination





Self-mobilization techniques for the lumbar spine
Self-mobilization of the lumbar spine of segments L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1 with patient on his or her back.

Lumbar spine mobilization as an intervention
Lumbar spine manipulation techniques
Many randomized clinical trials have found spinal manipulation to be more effective than placebo or other interventions for patients with LBP.16,19,21,27,28 Conversely, other studies have shown that manipulation is not more effective than other treatments.18,22,23 A few studies have found greater benefit from thrust manipulation techniques versus nonthrust mobilization for the lumbosacral region.24,26 Although manipulation is generally recommended as superior to mobilization procedures,17 there is presently no evidence for the superiority of one manipulation technique over another.20 It is possible that the choice of a specific manipulation technique may not be as important as previously thought.25
Clinical prediction rules for the lumbar spine
A CPR is a tool designed to assist the classification process and improve decision making by using evidence to determine which patients are likely to benefit from a specific treatment strategy.13 The goal of the CPR for the manipulation classification is to identify patients with LBP who are likely to respond to manipulation with rapid and sustained improvement.
Study: A clinical prediction rule to identify patients with low back pain most likely to benefit from spinal manipulation: a validation study Childs et al. 200429
Criteria Definition for a positive criteria
Duration of current episode of low back pain <16 days
Extent of distal symptoms Not having symptoms distal to the knee
FABQ work subscale score <19 points
Segmental mobility testing >1 hypomobile segment in the lumbar spine
Hip internal rotation range of motion >1 hip with .35 degrees of internal rotation range of motion
Comment: If a minimum of 4 to 5 criteria are present, there is a 92% chance of achieving a successful outcome by the end of 1 week.30 With less than 3 criteria positive there is a 7% probability of success, indicating the need for alternative treatment.










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