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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29831. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029831. Epub 2012 Jan 6.

Stretching of the back improves gait, mechanical sensitivity and connective tissue inflammation in a rodent model.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, United States of America. coreys@ocim.ucsf.edu

Abstract

The role played by nonspecialized connective tissues in chronic non-specific low back pain is not well understood. In a recent ultrasound study, human subjects with chronic low back pain had altered connective tissue structure compared to human subjects without low back pain, suggesting the presence of inflammation and/or fibrosis in the low back pain subjects. Mechanical input in the form of static tissue stretch has been shown in vitro and in vivo to have anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects. To better understand the pathophysiology of lumbar nonspecialized connective tissue as well as potential mechanisms underlying therapeutic effects of tissue stretch, we developed a carrageenan-induced inflammation model in the low back of a rodent. Induction of inflammation in the lumbar connective tissues resulted in altered gait, increased mechanical sensitivity of the tissues of the low back, and local macrophage infiltration. Mechanical input was then applied to this model as in vivo tissue stretch for 10 minutes twice a day for 12 days. In vivo tissue stretch mitigated the inflammation-induced changes leading to restored stride length and intrastep distance, decreased mechanical sensitivity of the back and reduced macrophage expression in the nonspecialized connective tissues of the low back. This study highlights the need for further investigation into the contribution of connective tissue to low back pain and the need for a better understanding of how interventions involving mechanical stretch could provide maximal therapeutic benefit. This tissue stretch research is relevant to body-based treatments such as yoga or massage, and to some stretch techniques used with physical therapy.

PMID:
22238664
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3253101
Free PMC Article
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