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Center of pressure excursion as a measure of balance performance in patients with non-specific low back pain compared to healthy controls: a systematic review of the literature

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Abstract

Over the past 20 years, the center of pressure (COP) has been commonly used as an index of postural stability in standing. While many studies investigated COP excursions in low back pain patients and healthy individuals, no comprehensive analysis of the reported differences in postural sway pattern exists. Six online databases were systematically searched followed by a manual search of the retrieved papers. The selection criteria comprised papers comparing COP measures derived from bipedal static task conditions on a force-plate of non-specific low back pain (NSLBP) sufferers to those of healthy controls. Sixteen papers met the inclusion criteria. Heterogeneity in study designs prevented pooling of the data so only a qualitative data analysis was conducted. The majority of the papers (14/16, 88%) concluded that NSLBP patients have increased COP mean velocity and overall excursion as compared to healthy individuals. This was statistically significant in the majority of studies (11/14, 79%). An increased sway in anteroposterior direction was also observed in NSLBP patients. Patients with NSLBP exhibit greater postural instability than healthy controls, signified by greater COP excursions and a higher mean velocity. While the decreased postural stability in NSLBP sufferers further appears to be associated with the presence of pain, it seems unrelated to the exact location and pain duration. No correlation between the pain intensity and the magnitude of COP excursions could be identified.

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Acknowledgments

The author(s) like to thank Tino Bos (TB) for his valuable contribution during the first phase of the literature search.

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests. No funding was received for this review.

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Correspondence to Alexander Ruhe.

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Ruhe, A., Fejer, R. & Walker, B. Center of pressure excursion as a measure of balance performance in patients with non-specific low back pain compared to healthy controls: a systematic review of the literature. Eur Spine J 20, 358–368 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-010-1543-2

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