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Movement-based subgrouping in low back pain: synergy and divergence in approaches

Abstract

Background

Classification systems for low back pain (LBP) aim to guide treatment decisions. In physiotherapy, there are five classification schemes for LBP which consider responses to clinical movement examination. Little is known of the relationship between the schemes.

Objectives

To investigate overlap between subgroups of patients with LBP when classified using different movement-based classification schemes, and to consider how participants classified according to one scheme would be classified by another.

Design

Cross-sectional cohort study.

Setting

University clinical laboratory.

Participants

One hundred and two participants with LBP were recruited from university, hospital outpatient and private physiotherapy clinics, and community advertisements.

Intervention

Participants underwent a standardised examination including questions and movement tests to guide subgrouping.

Main outcome measures

Participants were allocated to a LBP subgroup using each of the five classification schemes: Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment (MDT), Movement System Impairment (MSI), O'Sullivan Classification (OSC), Pathoanatomic Based Classification (PBC) and Treatment Based Classification (TBC).

Results

There was concordance in allocation to subgroups that consider pain relief from direction-specific repeated spinal loading in the MDT, PBC and TBC schemes. There was consistency of subgrouping between the MSI and OSC schemes, which consider pain provocation to specific movement directions. Synergies between other subgroups were more variable. Participants from one subgroup could be subdivided using another scheme.

Conclusions

There is overlap and discordance between LBP subgrouping schemes that consider movement. Where overlap is present, schemes recommend different treatment options. Where subgroups from one scheme can be subdivided using another scheme, there is potential to further guide treatment. An integrated assessment model may refine treatment targeting.

Cite this article

Movement-based subgrouping in low back pain: synergy and divergence in approaches.

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