Correlations Between Individuals’ Characteristics and Spinal Stiffness in Individuals With and Without Back Pain: A Combined Analysis of Multiple Data Sets

Isabelle Pagé, Michael Swain, Arnold Wong, Alexander Breen, Diana De Carvalho, Martin Descarreaux, Martha Funabashi, Gregory Kawchuk

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the correlations between individual characteristics and spinal stiffness as measured with different spinal stiffness measurement devices in individuals with and without back pain. Methods: A secondary analysis of 3 adult data sets obtained using 3 different devices, in 2 spinal regions, from a total of 5 separate cross-sectional studies was conducted. Differences in spinal stiffness between men and women and in the strength of correlations among spinal stiffness and age and anthropometric characteristics were evaluated using either the t test for independent samples, Pearson's correlation coefficient, or Kendall's τ rank correlation coefficient. Results: As expected, results varied between data sets; however, few factors had consistent correlations. Specifically, spinal stiffness was significantly lower in women than men in all 3 data sets. Height was positively correlated with spinal stiffness across all data sets. Although weight was correlated with thoracic stiffness, its correlation with lumbar stiffness varied. In 2 data sets, body mass index was inversely associated with lumbar spinal stiffness, whereas results from the thoracic spine region revealed a positive correlation. The results for 1 data set suggest that physiological measurement evaluating body weight distribution may also affect spinal stiffness; however, the specific correlation remains unclear. Conclusion: Despite data set differences, significant correlations were observed, indicating that participants’ characteristics appear to affect spinal stiffness measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-752
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Association
  • Back Pain
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chiropractics

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