Posture `linked to back pain`

Washington: Back pain is a common complaint which has many causes, including muscle strain, slipped disc, and spasm. Now, a new study has found that the condition has a direct linear link with a person`s posture.

Though the link was long suspected, this is probably the first study, led by Alex Ruhe of Murdoch University, to scientifically establish it. "Possibly (the) relationship was deemed of low relevance as few direct clinical applications arise from it," he said.

For the study, researchers recruited 210 patients with low-back, mid-back and neck pain.

They then asked the subjects to rate their pain on a scale from zero (no pain) to 10 (the worst possible pain).

Body sway was measured on a solid fore plate after patients closed their eyes and changes in weight shifts were recorded by pressure sensors in each corner of the plate.

The recordings of pain sufferers were compared to sway data from healthy people of a similar age, a university release said.

Ruhe said: "We discovered body sway increased with higher pain intensities and this increase followed a linear fashion. Similar results were observed for the three painful regions.

"In follow-up studies, we observed changes in body sway as pain decreased after a course of three manual therapeutic interventions at three to four day intervals. The results showed that sway was lowered as pain levels decreased, maintaining the linear relationship previously observed.

"Long-term damage or changes to the nervous system due to the pain appears unlikely because reduced sway in association with pain reduction was observed after just a few days."

The researchers say that doctors should now focus on pain control while treating patients. "This research marks an important finding for clinicians. It serves as an objective monitoring tool for patients suffering from back pain under treatment and rehabilitation," Ruhe said.