The active straight leg raising test and mobility of the pelvic joints
- Cite this article as:
- Mens, J., Vleeming, A., Snijders, C. et al. E Spine J (1999) 8: 468. doi:10.1007/s005860050206
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Objective signs to assess impairment in patients who are disabled by peripartum pelvic girdle pain hardly exist. The purpose of this study was to develop a clinical test to quantify and qualify disability in these patients. The study examined the relationship between impaired active straight leg raising (ASLR) and mobility of pelvic joints in patients with peripartum pelvic girdle pain, focusing on (1) the reduction of impairment of ASLR when the patient was wearing a pelvic belt, and (2) motions between the pubic bones measured by X-ray examination when the patient was standing on one leg, alternating left and right. Twenty-one non-pregnant patients with peripartum pelvic girdle pain in whom pain and impairment of ASLR were mainly located on one side were selected. ASLR was performed in the supine position, first without a pelvic belt and then with a belt. The influence of the belt on the ability to actively raise the leg was assessed by the patient. Mobility of the pelvic joints was radiographically visualized by means of the Chamberlain method. Assessment was blinded. Ability to perform ASLR was improved by a pelvic belt in 20 of the 21 patients (binomial two-tailed P = 0.0000). When the patient was standing on one leg, alternating the symptomatic side and the reference side, a significant difference between the two sides was observed with respect to the size of the radiographically visualized steps between the pubic bones (binomial two-tailed P = 0.01). The step at the symptomatic side was on average larger when the leg at that side was hanging down than when the patient was standing on the leg at that side. Impairment of ASLR correlates strongly with mobility of the pelvic joints in patients with peripartum pelvic girdle pain. The ASLR test could be a suitable instrument to quantify and qualify disability in diseases related to mobility of the pelvic joints. Further studies are needed to assess the relationship with clinical parameters, sensitivity, specificity and responsiveness in various categories of patients. In contrast with the opinion of Chamberlain, that a radiographically visualized step between the pubic bones is caused by cranial shift of the pubic bone at the side of the standing leg, it is concluded that the step is caused by caudal shift of the pubic bone at the side of the leg hanging down. The caudal shift is caused by an anterior rotation of the hip bone about a horizontal axis near the sacroiliac joint.