Musculoskeletal Medicine and PainOriginal Article

The Persistence of Lumbar Somatic Dysfunction and Its Association With Bone Mineral Density

Karen T. Snider, DO; Jane C. Johnson, MA; Brian F. Degenhardt, DO; and Eric J. Snider, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 10, 2013

Accepted: September 11, 2013

Published: January 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(1): 8-20

Context: Clinically meaningful somatic dysfunction, if left untreated, should persist over time and be associated with objective measurable findings.

Objectives: To investigate the persistence of lumbar somatic dysfunction over 8 weeks and the association of that persistence with lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) T scores.

Methods: Individuals were assessed at 0, 4, and 8 weeks for the presence and severity of paraspinal tissue texture abnormalities (TTA), vertebral rotational asymmetry, anterior motion restriction, and tenderness from L1 to L4. Participants underwent dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry of the lumbar spine at 0 and 8 weeks. Persistent somatic dysfunction findings from all 3 examinations were compared with BMD T scores obtained at 8 weeks and to changes in the BMD T scores from 0 to 8 weeks.

Results: Forty-eight individuals (38 women [79%] and 10 men [21%]) participated in the study. The mean (standard deviation [SD]) age was 30.1 (6.4) years (range, 20.0-40.8 years), and the mean (SD) body mass index was 26.3 (5.2). The percentage of vertebrae with persistent somatic dysfunction varied by vertebral level and ranged from 44% to 83% for TTA, 63% to 79% for rotational asymmetry, 10% to 56% for motion restriction, and 2% to 10% for tenderness. Vertebral segments with persistent motion restriction had higher mean BMD T scores (95% confidence interval [CI]) than those without persistent motion restriction (0.6 [0.4 to 0.8] vs 0.2 [0.1 to 0.4], respectively; P=.02). There was a significant increase in the vertebral BMD T scores for those vertebrae that demonstrated persistent TTA (P=.02) and for those vertebrae that demonstrated persistent moderate/severe TTA (P=.02). A significant difference was found in the initial to final vertebral BMD T-score change between vertebrae that demonstrated persistent tenderness and those that did not (mean [95% CI] change, −0.2 [−0.4 to 0.1] vs 0.1 [0.0 to 0.1], respectively; P=.04).

Conclusions: A persistence of predominantly left lumbar rotation was observed. Persistent vertebral motion restriction was shown to have an association with final lumbar BMD T scores, and persistent TTA and tenderness were associated with changes in the BMD T scores over 8 weeks.

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