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PLoS One. 2017 Oct 17;12(10):e0186369. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186369. eCollection 2017.

Relative mobility of the pelvis and spine during trunk axial rotation in chronic low back pain patients: A case-control study.

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Division of Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Units, Shiga University of Medical Science Hospital, Otsu, Shiga, Japan.
Department of Physical Therapy, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto-City, Kyoto, Japan.



Trunk axial rotation is a risk factor for chronic low back pain (CLBP). The characteristics of rotational mobility in the pelvis and spine among CLBP patients are not fully understood.


The purpose of this study was to examine three-dimensional kinematic changes, and to compare the differences of rotational mobility and coupled motion, in patients with and without CLBP.


Fifteen patients with CLBP and 15 age and sex matched healthy subjects participated in this study. Each subject performed trunk rotation to maximum range of motion (ROM) in a standing position. The kinematics data was collected using a three-dimensional motion analysis system. The outcomes measured were the rotational ROM and the spine/pelvis ratio (SPR) in transvers plane at both maximum and 50% rotation position. The coupled angles in sagittal and frontal planes were also measured.


No significant differences in rotational ROM of the thorax, pelvis, and spine were observed between two groups at maximum rotation position. However, there was a significant interaction between groups and rotational ROM of pelvis and spine (F = 4.57, p = 0.04), and the SPR in CLBP patients was significantly greater than that of the healthy subjects (CLBP; 0.50 ± 0.10 Control; 0.41 ± 0.12, p = 0.04). The results at 50% rotation position were similar to that at maximum rotation. This indicates a relative increase in spinal rotation in the CLBP patients during trunk rotation. Moreover, the CLBP patients exhibited a significantly higher anterior tilt of the pelvis and extension of the spine in the sagittal plane coupled with rotation.


CLBP patients had relative hyper rotational mobility of the spine as well as excessive spinal extension coupled with trunk rotation. These results suggest that uncoordinated trunk rotation might be a functional failure associated with CLBP.

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