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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:815407. doi: 10.1155/2015/815407. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Interrater Reliability of Motion Palpation in the Thoracic Spine.

Author information

1
School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, Perth, WA 6150, Australia.
2
US Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy, San Antonio, TX 78234-6100, USA.
3
School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, WA 6150, Australia.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Manual therapists commonly use assessments of intervertebral motion to determine the need for spinal manipulation, but the reliability of these procedures demonstrates conflicting results. The objectives of this study were to investigate the interrater reliability of thoracic spine motion palpation for perceived joint restriction and pain.

METHODS:

Twenty-five participants between the ages of 18 and 70, with or without mid-back pain, were enrolled. Two raters motion palpated marked T5-T12 levels using two methods (standardised and pragmatic) and noted any restricted or painful segments. We calculated agreement between two raters by generating raw agreement percentages and Kappa coefficients with 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS:

There was poor to low level of agreement between the raters for both joint stiffness and pain localization using both pragmatic and standardized approaches. The results did not improve significantly when we conducted a post hoc analysis where three spinal levels were collapsed as one and right and left sides were also combined.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results for interrater reliability were poor for motion restriction and pain. These findings may have unfavourable implications for all manual therapists who use motion palpation to select patients appropriate for spinal manipulation.

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