Time spent standing as indicator for benefit from core stabilization program in patients with spine pain: preliminary prediction from a case series

Elizabeth Yanela Saint John, Steven Z George


Background/Purpose: A large number of patients seek physical therapy for spine pain (low back pain, cervical pain, or both). Due to variability and differing demographics, patients sometimes fail to fit neatly into a treatment-based classification category. The purpose of this study was to describe which variables would potentially enable a therapist to predict if a patient with spine pain would benefit from a stabilization exercise program.

Measures/Interventions: Patients with spine pain for greater than 3 months were included. Predictive and outcome variables were recorded and patients were each given a similar spinal stabilization program. T-test and correlation tests were performed after 4 weeks to determine which variables could potentially predict improvement.

Outcomes: Only the amount of time spent standing in a day showed an association to improvement (p-value < 0.05). The average time spent standing for the improved group was 167 minutes and 50 minutes for the non-improved group. The LSI and the Orebro showed no association with the Double Leg Lower test, but did demonstrate a positive correlation with pain scores.

Conclusion: How long a patient stood during a typical day was the only variable that had an association with improvement following a 4-week spinal stabilization program. The group that improved spent more time standing than the non-improved group. Future studies could utilize these findings to determine if the results are consistent in larger sample sizes, and whether there are cutoff values for standing times.

Clinical Relevance: If standing times truly are predictive of improvement with a stabilization program, prescription of standing could be utilized to improve outcomes in patients with spinal pain.

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