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Chiropractic Research Review

How Do Lumbar Vertebrae Move during Flexion and Extension?

Most kinematic studies on normal spinal range of motion (ROM) have been two-dimensional analyses using lateral functional radiograph films. Few studies have measured differences in motion characteristics of the lumbar spine between forward and backward flexion, and even fewer have investigated these characteristics using cineradiography.

In this study, cineradiographic motion analysis was performed in 10 asymptomatic healthy male volunteers for two different lumbar motions: active forward flexion from full extension, and active backward flexion from full forward flexion.

Displacements of the anterior and posterior vertebral corners from L3/L4 to L5/S1 were measured continuously, and onset of segmental motion, velocity of segmental motion, and continuous motion profiles of the vertebral corners were investigated during the two different motions. The authors present the following key points as summary to their findings:

* Lumbar motion started from upper to lower segments (with phase lags) during forward flexion, and from lower to upper segments (with phase lags) during backward flexion.

* During forward flexion, initial angular velocity of segmental motion was larger at lower segments than at upper segments; no such trend was noted during backward flexion.

* Motion profiles of vertebral corners were similar at L3/4 and L4/5 segments in forward and backward flexion; at the L5/S1 segments, motion profiles were different between forward/backward flexion.

Harada M, Abumi K, Manabu I, et al. Cineradiographic motion analysis of normal lumbar spine during forward and backward flexion. Spine 2000:25(15), pp1932-37.

Chiropractic Research Review

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