Thoracic kyphosis affects spinal loads and trunk muscle force

A.M. Briggs, J.H. van Dieen, T.V. Wrigley, A.M. Greig, B. Phillips, S.K. Lo, K.L. Bennell

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    Background and Purpose: Patients with increased thoracic curvature often come to physical therapists for management of spinal pain and disorders. Although treatment approaches are aimed at normalizing or minimizing progression of kyphosis, the biomechanical rationales remain unsubstantiated. Subjects: Forty-four subjects (mean age [±SD]=62.3±7.1 years) were dichotomized into high kyphosis and low kyphosis groups. Methods: Lateral standing radiographs and photographs were captured and then digitized. These data were input into biomechanical models to estimate net segmental loading from T2-L5 as well as trunk muscle forces. Results: The high kyphosis group demonstrated significantly greater normalized flexion moments and net compression and shear forces. Trunk muscle forces also were significantly greater in the high kyphosis group. A strong relationship existed between thoracic curvature and net segmental loads (r=.85-.93) and between thoracic cur-vature and muscle forces (r=.70-.82). Discussion and Conclusion: This study provides biomechanical evidence that increases in thoracic kyphosis are associated with significantly higher multisegmental spinal loads and trunk muscle forces in upright stance. These factors are likely to accelerate degenerative processes in spinal motion segments and contribute to the development of dysfunction and pain. © 2007 American Physical Therapy Association.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)595-607
    JournalPhysical Therapy
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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