segunda-feira, 22 de abril de 2013


2012 Jul;21(7):1301-10. doi: 10.1007/s00586-012-2155-9. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Spine stabilisation exercises in the treatment of chronic low back pain: a good clinical outcome is not associated with improved abdominal muscle function.


Spine Center Division, Department of Research and Development, Schulthess Klinik, Lengghalde 2, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland.



Various studies have shown that spine stabilisation exercise therapy elicits improvements in symptoms/disability in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (cLBP). However, few have corroborated the intended mechanism of action by examining whether clinical improvements (1) are greater in patients with functional deficits of the targeted muscles and (2) correlate with post-treatment improvements in abdominal muscle function.


Pre and directly after 9 weeks' therapy, 32 cLBP patients (44.0 ± 12.3 years) rated their LBP intensity (0-10) and disability (0-24, Roland-Morris; RM) and completed psychological questionnaires. At the same timepoints, the voluntary activation of transversus abdominis (TrA), obliquus internus and obliquus externus during "abdominal-hollowing" and the anticipatory ("feedforward") activation of these muscles during rapid arm movements were measured using M-mode ultrasound with tissue Doppler imaging.


Pre-therapy to post-therapy, RM decreased from 8.9 ± 4.7 to 6.7 ± 4.3, and average pain, from 4.7 ± 1.7 to 3.5 ± 2.3 (each P < 0.01). The ability to voluntarily activate TrA increased by 4.5% (P = 0.045) whilst the anticipatory activation of the lateral abdominal muscles showed no significant change (P > 0.05). There was no significant correlation between the change in RM scores after therapy and either baseline values for voluntary (r = 0.24, P = 0.20) or anticipatory activation (r = 0.04, P = 0.84), or their changes after therapy (voluntary, r = 0.08, P = 0.66; anticipatory, r = 0.16, P = 0.40). In multiple regression, only a reduction in catastrophising (P = 0.0003) and in fingertip-floor distance (P = 0.0006) made unique contributions to explaining the variance in the reduction in RM scores.


Neither baseline lateral abdominal muscle function nor its improvement after a programme of stabilisation exercises was a statistical predictor of a good clinical outcome. It is hence difficult to attribute the therapeutic result to any specific effects of the exercises on these trunk muscles. The association between changes in catastrophising and outcome serves to encourage further investigation on larger groups of patients to clarify whether stabilisation exercises have some sort of "central" effect, unrelated to abdominal muscle function per se.
2012 Aug;21 Suppl 6:S750-9. doi: 10.1007/s00586-011-1707-8. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

Ultrasound assessment of transversus abdominis muscle contraction ratio during abdominal hollowing: a useful tool to distinguish between patients with chronic low back pain and healthy controls?


Department of Rheumatology and Institute of Physical Medicine, University Hospital Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Spine stabilisation exercises, in which patients are taught to preferentially activate the transversus abdominus (TrA) during "abdominal hollowing" (AH), are a popular treatment for chronic low back pain (cLBP). The present study investigated whether performance during AH differed between cLBP patients and controls to an extent that would render it useful diagnostic tool. 50 patients with cLBP (46.3 ± 12.5 years) and 50 healthy controls (43.6 ± 12.7 years) participated in this case-control study. They performed AH in hook-lying. Using M-mode ultrasound, thicknesses of TrA, and obliquus internus and externus were determined at rest and during 5 s AH (5 measures each body side). The TrA contraction-ratio (TrA-CR) (TrA contracted/rest) and the ability to sustain the contraction [standard deviation (SD) of TrA thickness during the stable phase of the hold] were investigated. There were no significant group differences for the absolute muscle thicknesses at rest or during AH, or for the SD of TrA thickness. There was a small but significant difference between the groups for TrA-CR: cLBP 1.35 ± 0.14, controls 1.44 ± 0.24 (p < 0.05). However, Receiver Operator Characteristics (ROC) analysis revealed a poor and non-significant ability of TrA-CR to discriminate between cLBP patients and controls on an individual basis (ROC area under the curve, 0.60 [95% CI 0.495; 0.695], p = 0.08). In the patient group, TrA-CR showed a low but significant correlation with Roland Morris score (Spearman Rho = 0.328; p = 0.02). In conclusion, the difference in group mean values for TrA-CR was small and of uncertain clinical relevance. Moreover, TrA-CR showed a poor ability to discriminate between control and cLBP subjects on an individual basis. We conclude that the TrA-CR during abdominal hollowing does not distinguish well between patients with chronic low back pain and healthy controls.

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