Is activation of transversus abdominis and obliquus internus abdominis associated with long-term changes in chronic low back pain? A prospective study with 1-year follow-up

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Medisinsk teknisk forskningssenter (MTFS), 7489 Trondheim, Norway.
British Journal of Sports Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.03). 07/2011; 46(10):729-34. DOI: 10.1136/bjsm.2011.085506
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To investigate associations between deep abdominal muscle activation and long-term pain outcome in chronic non-specific low back pain (LBP).
Recruitment of transversus abdominis and obliquus internus abdominis during the abdominal drawing-in manoeuvre was recorded by B-mode ultrasound and anticipatory onset of deep abdominal muscle activity with M-mode ultrasound. Recordings were done before and after 8 weeks with guided exercises for 109 patients with chronic non-specific LBP. Pain was assessed with a numeric rating scale (0-10) before and 1 year after intervention. Associations between muscle activation and long-term pain were examined by multiple linear and logistic regression methods.
Participants with a combination of low baseline lateral slide in transversus abdominis and increased slide after intervention had better odds for long-term clinically important pain reduction (≥2 points on the numeric rating scale) compared with participants with small baseline slide and no improvement in slide (OR 14.70, 95% CI 2.41 to 89.56). There were no associations between contraction thickness ratios in transversus abdominis or obliquus internus abdominis and pain at 1-year follow-up. Transversus abdominis lateral slide before intervention was marginally associated with a lower OR for clinically important improvement in pain at 1-year follow-up (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.93). Delayed onset of the abdominal muscles after the intervention period was weakly associated with higher long-term pain.
Improved transversus abdominis lateral slide among participants with low baseline slide was associated with clinically important long-term pain reduction. High baseline slide and delayed onset of abdominal muscles after the intervention period were weakly associated with higher pain at 1-year follow-up. Clinical Trial Registration number The study was preregistered in with identifier NCT00201513.

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Available from: Ottar Vasseljen, Aug 27, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Although individual reports suggest that baseline morphometry or activity of transversus abdominis or lumbar multifidus predict clinical outcome of low back pain (LBP), a related systematic review is unavailable. Therefore, this review summarized evidence regarding the predictive value of these muscular characteristics. Candidate publications were identified from 6 electronic medical databases. After review, 5 cohort studies were included. Although this review intended to encompass studies using different muscle assessment methods, all included studies coincidentally used ultrasound imaging. No research investigated the relation between static morphometry and clinical outcomes. Evidence synthesis showed limited evidence supporting poor baseline transversus abdominis contraction thickness ratio as a treatment effect modifier favoring motor control exercise. Limited evidence supported that high baseline transversus abdominis lateral slide was associated with higher pain intensity after various exercise interventions at 1-year follow-up. However, there was limited evidence for the absence of relation between the contraction thickness ratio of transversus abdominis or anticipatory onset of lateral abdominal muscles at baseline and the short- or long-term LBP intensity after exercise interventions. There was conflicting evidence for a relation between baseline percent thickness change of lumbar multifidus during contraction and the clinical outcomes of patients after various conservative treatments. Given study heterogeneity, the small number of included studies and the inability of conventional greyscale B-mode ultrasound imaging to measure muscle activity, our findings should be interpreted with caution. Further large-scale prospective studies that use appropriate technology (ie, electromyography to assess muscle activity) should be conducted to investigate the predictive value of morphometry or activity of these muscles with respect to LBP-related outcomes measures.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Activation of transversus abdominis and fear avoidance beliefs have both been related to low back pain (LBP). This exploratory study aims to investigate associations between fear avoidance beliefs at baseline and deep abdominal muscle activation after an 8-week period of supervised exercises for chronic LBP. METHODS: A cohort of patients with chronic non-specific LBP (N = 108) enrolled in a clinical trial was studied longitudinally. Fear avoidance beliefs for physical activity and work were measured before intervention. Activation in transversus abdominis and obliquus internus abdominis during abdominal drawing-in manoeuvre and rapid arm flexion was measured by ultrasound before and after intervention. Associations between baseline fear avoidance beliefs and deep abdominal muscle activation after exercises were analysed with multiple linear regression methods. RESULTS: High fear avoidance beliefs for physical activity (≥16 on the subscale) were negatively associated with transversus abdominis slide after the intervention period, β = -4.92 (-8.40 to -1.45). There were no associations between fear avoidance beliefs for physical activity and abdominal muscle onset, transversus abdominis or obliquus internus contraction ratio. Fear avoidance beliefs for work were not associated with any of the muscle activation parameters. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that there is some negative association between fear avoidance beliefs for physical activity before intervention and transversus abdominis recruitment measured by lateral slide after intervention. No other significant associations between fear avoidance beliefs and abdominal muscle activation were found. We cannot exclude random findings, meaning that the results should be considered hypothesis generating for further investigations. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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