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1.  Physical activity is associated with a low prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the Royal Norwegian Navy: a cross sectional study 
Background
Despite considerable knowledge about musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and physical, psychosocial and individual risk factors there is limited knowledge about physical activity as a factor in preventing MSD. In addition, studies of physical activity are often limited to either leisure activity or physical activity at work. Studies among military personnel on the association between physical activity at work and at leisure and MSD are lacking. This study was conducted to find the prevalence of MSD among personnel in the Royal Norwegian Navy and to assess the association between physical activity at work and at leisure and MSD.
Methods
A questionnaire about musculoskeletal disorders, physical activity and background data (employment status, age, gender, body mass index, smoking, education and physical stressors) was completed by 2265 workers (58%) 18 to 70 years old in the Royal Norwegian Navy. Multiple logistic regression with 95% confidence intervals was used to assess the relationship between physical activity and musculoskeletal disorders.
Results
A total of 32% of the workers reported musculoskeletal disorders often or very often in one or more parts of the body in the past year. The most common musculoskeletal disorders were in the lower back (15% often or very often), shoulders (12% often or very often) and neck (11% often or very often). After adjustment for confounders, physical activity was inversely associated with musculoskeletal disorders for all body sites except elbows, knees and feet.
Conclusion
The one-year prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among workers in the Royal Norwegian Navy was rather low. A physically active lifestyle both at work and at leisure was associated with fewer musculoskeletal disorders among personnel in the Royal Norwegian Navy. Prospective studies are necessary to confirm the cause and effect in this association.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-56
PMCID: PMC1929072  PMID: 17601352
2.  Reliability and validity study of Persian modified version of MUSIC (musculoskeletal intervention center) – Norrtalje questionnaire 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a major health problem in the world. Self-reported questionnaires are a known method for estimating the prevalence of MSDs among the population. One of the studies concerning MSDs and their relation to work-related physical and psychosocial factors, as well as non-work-related factors, is the MUSIC-Norrtalje study in Sweden. In this study, the research group developed a questionnaire, which has been validated during its development process and is now considered a well-known instrument. The aim of this study is to validate the Persian version of this questionnaire.
Methods
The first step was to establish two expert panel groups in Iran and Sweden. The Focus Group Discussion (FGD) method was used to detect questionnaire face and content validity. To detect questionnaire reliability, we used the test-retest method.
Results
Except for two items, all other questions that respondents had problems with in the focus group (20 of 297), had unclear translations; the ambiguity was related to the stem of the questions and the predicted answers were clear for the participants. The concepts of 'household/spare time' and 'physical activity in the workplace' were not understood by the participants of FGD; this has been solved by adding further descriptions to these phrases in the translation. In the test-retest study, the reliability coefficient was relatively high in most items (only 5 items out of 297 had an ICC or kappa below 0.7).
Conclusion
The findings from the present study provide evidence that the Persian version of the MUSIC questionnaire is a reliable and valid instrument.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-88
PMCID: PMC2078587  PMID: 17764557
3.  Treatment of myofascial trigger points in common shoulder disorders by physical therapy: A randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN75722066] 
Background
Shoulder disorders are a common health problem in western societies. Several treatment protocols have been developed for the clinical management of persons with shoulder pain. However available evidence does not support any protocol as being superior over others. Systematic reviews provide some evidence that certain physical therapy interventions (i.e. supervised exercises and mobilisation) are effective in particular shoulder disorders (i.e. rotator cuff disorders, mixed shoulder disorders and adhesive capsulitis), but there is an ongoing need for high quality trials of physical therapy interventions. Usually, physical therapy consists of active exercises intended to strengthen the shoulder muscles as stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint or perform mobilisations to improve restricted mobility of the glenohumeral or adjacent joints (shoulder girdle). It is generally accepted that a-traumatic shoulder problems are the result of impingement of the subacromial structures, such as the bursa or rotator cuff tendons. Myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in shoulder muscles may also lead to a complex of symptoms that are often seen in patients diagnosed with subacromial impingement or rotator cuff tendinopathy. Little is known about the treatment of MTrPs in patients with shoulder disorders.
The primary aim of this study is to investigate whether physical therapy modalities to inactivate MTrPs can reduce symptoms and improve shoulder function in daily activities in a population of chronic a-traumatic shoulder patients when compared to a wait-and-see strategy. In addition we investigate the recurrence rate during a one-year-follow-up period.
Methods/Design
This paper presents the design for a randomized controlled trial to be conducted between September 2007 – September 2008, evaluating the effectiveness of a physical therapy treatment for non-traumatic shoulder complaints. One hundred subjects are included in this study. All subjects have unilateral shoulder pain for at least six months and are referred to a physical therapy practice specialized in musculoskeletal disorders of the neck-, shoulder-, and arm.
After the initial assessment patients are randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a control-group (wait and see). The primary outcome measure is the overall score of the Dutch language version of the DASH (Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand) questionnaire.
Discussion
Since there is only little evidence for the efficacy of physical therapy interventions in certain shoulder disorders, there is a need for further research. We found only a few studies examining the efficacy of MTrP therapy for shoulder disorders. Therefore we will perform a randomised clinical trial of the effect of physical therapy interventions aimed to inactivate MTrPs, on pain and impairment in shoulder function in a population of chronic a-traumatic shoulder patients. We opted for an intervention strategy that best reflects daily practice. Manual high velocity thrust techniques and dry-needling are excluded. Because in most physical therapy interventions, blinding of the patient and the therapist is not possible, we will perform a randomised, controlled and observer-blinded study.
Trial Registration
This randomized clinical trial is registered at current controlled trials ISRCTN75722066.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-107
PMCID: PMC2246010  PMID: 17983467
4.  Effectiveness of calf muscle stretching for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain: a randomised trial 
Background
Plantar heel pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders of the foot and ankle. Treatment of the condition is usually conservative, however the effectiveness of many treatments frequently used in clinical practice, including stretching, has not been established. We performed a participant-blinded randomised trial to assess the effectiveness of calf muscle stretching, a commonly used short-term treatment for plantar heel pain.
Methods
Ninety-two participants with plantar heel pain were recruited from the general public between April and June 2005. Participants were randomly allocated to an intervention group that were prescribed calf muscle stretches and sham ultrasound (n = 46) or a control group who received sham ultrasound alone (n = 46). The intervention period was two weeks. No participants were lost to follow-up. Primary outcome measures were 'first-step' pain (measured on a 100 mm Visual Analogue Scale) and the Foot Health Status Questionnaire domains of foot pain, foot function and general foot health.
Results
Both treatment groups improved over the two week period of follow-up but there were no statistically significant differences in improvement between groups for any of the measured outcomes. For example, the mean improvement for 'first-step' pain (0–100 mm) was -19.8 mm in the stretching group and -13.2 mm in the control group (adjusted mean difference between groups -7.9 mm; 95% CI -18.3 to 2.6). For foot function (0–100 scale), the stretching group improved 16.2 points and the control group improved 8.3 points (adjusted mean difference between groups 7.3; 95% CI -0.1 to 14.8). Ten participants in the stretching group experienced an adverse event, however most events were mild to moderate and short-lived.
Conclusion
When used for the short-term treatment of plantar heel pain, a two-week stretching program provides no statistically significant benefit in 'first-step' pain, foot pain, foot function or general foot health compared to not stretching.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-36
PMCID: PMC1867816  PMID: 17442119
5.  Obesity and pronated foot type may increase the risk of chronic plantar heel pain: a matched case-control study 
Background
Chronic plantar heel pain (CPHP) is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders of the foot, yet its aetiology is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between CPHP and a number of commonly hypothesised causative factors.
Methods
Eighty participants with CPHP (33 males, 47 females, mean age 52.3 years, S.D. 11.7) were matched by age (± 2 years) and sex to 80 control participants (33 males, 47 females, mean age 51.9 years, S.D. 11.8). The two groups were then compared on body mass index (BMI), foot posture as measured by the Foot Posture Index (FPI), ankle dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM) as measured by the Dorsiflexion Lunge Test, occupational lower limb stress using the Occupational Rating Scale and calf endurance using the Standing Heel Rise Test.
Results
Univariate analysis demonstrated that the CPHP group had significantly greater BMI (29.8 ± 5.4 kg/m2 vs. 27.5 ± 4.9 kg/m2; P < 0.01), a more pronated foot posture (FPI score 2.4 ± 3.3 vs. 1.1 ± 2.3; P < 0.01) and greater ankle dorsiflexion ROM (45.1 ± 7.1° vs. 40.5 ± 6.6°; P < 0.01) than the control group. No difference was identified between the groups for calf endurance or time spent sitting, standing, walking on uneven ground, squatting, climbing or lifting. Multivariate logistic regression revealed that those with CPHP were more likely to be obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.4 – 6.1, P < 0.01) and to have a pronated foot posture (FPI ≥ 4) (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.6 – 8.7, P < 0.01).
Conclusion
Obesity and pronated foot posture are associated with CPHP and may be risk factors for the development of the condition. Decreased ankle dorsiflexion, calf endurance and occupational lower limb stress may not play a role in CPHP.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-41
PMCID: PMC1884155  PMID: 17506905
6.  Autonomic and muscular responses and recovery to one-hour laboratory mental stress in healthy subjects 
Background
Stress is a risk factor for musculoskeletal pain. We wanted to explore stress related physiology in healthy subjects in order to gain insight into mechanisms of pain development which may relate to the pathophysiology of musculoskeletal pain disorders.
Methods
Continuous blood pressure, heart rate, finger skin blood flow, respiration, surface electromyography together with perception of pain, fatigue and tension were recorded on 35 healthy women and 9 healthy men before, during a 60 minute period with task-related low-grade mental stress, and in the following 30 minute rest period.
Results
Subjects responded physiologically to the stressful task with an increase in trapezius and frontalis muscle activity, increased blood pressure, respiration frequency and heart rate together with reduced finger skin blood flow. The blood pressure response and the finger skin blood flow response did not recover to baseline values during the 30-minute rest period, whereas respiration frequency, heart rate, and surface electromyography of the trapezius and frontalis muscles recovered to baseline within 10 minutes after the stressful task. Sixty-eight percent responded subjectively with pain development and 64% reported at least 30% increase in pain. Reduced recovery of the blood pressure was weakly correlated to fatigue development during stress, but was not correlated to pain or tension.
Conclusion
Based on a lack of recovery of the blood pressure and the acral finger skin blood flow response to mental stress we conclude that these responses are more protracted than other physiological stress responses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-81
PMCID: PMC2045095  PMID: 17697337
7.  Knee complaints and consequences on work status; a 10-year follow-up survey among floor layers and graphic designers 
Background
The purpose of the study was to examine if knee complaints among floor layers predict exclusion from the trade.
Methods
In 1994/95 self-reported data were obtained from a cohort of floor layers and graphic designers with and without knee straining work activities, respectively. At follow-up in 2005 the questionnaire survey was repeated. The study population consisted of 81 floor layers and 173 graphic designers who were presently working in their trades at baseline (1995). All participants were men aged 36–70 years in 2005.
We computed the risk of losing gainful employment in the trade according to occurrence of knee complaints at baseline, using Cox proportional hazard regression adjusted for a number of potential confounding variables. Moreover, the crude and adjusted odds risk ratio for knee complaints according to status of employment in the trade were computed, using graphic designers as reference.
Results
A positive but non-significant association between knee complaints lasting more than 30 days the past 12 months and exclusion from the trade was found among floor layers (Hazard Ratio = 1.4, 95% CI = 0.6–3.5).
The frequency of self-reported knee complaints was lower among floor layers presently at work in the trade in year 2005 (26.3%) compared with baseline in 1995 (41.1%), while the opposite tendency was seen among graphic designers (20.7% vs. 10.7%).
Conclusion
The study suggests that knee complaints are a risk factor for premature exclusion from a knee demanding trade. However, low power of the study precludes strong conclusions. The study also indicates a healthy worker effect among floor layers and a survivor effect among graphic designers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-93
PMCID: PMC2203991  PMID: 17877790
8.  Kinesiophobia in patients with non-traumatic arm, neck and shoulder complaints: a prospective cohort study in general practice 
Background
Complaints of arm, neck and shoulder are common in Western societies. Of those consulting a general practitioner (GP) with non-traumatic arm, neck or shoulder complaints, about 50% do not recover within 6 months.
Kinesiophobia (also known as fear of movement/(re)injury) may also play a role in these complaints, as it may lead to avoidance behaviour resulting in hypervigilance to bodily sensations, followed by disability, disuse and depression. However, in relation to arm, neck and shoulder complaints little is known about kinesiophobia and its associated variables.
Therefore this study aimed to: describe the degree of kinesiophobia in patients with non-traumatic complaints of arm, neck and shoulder in general practice; to determine whether mean scores of kinesiophobia change over time in non-recovered patients; and to evaluate variables associated with kinesiophobia at baseline.
Methods
In this prospective cohort study set in general practice, consulters with a first or new episode of non-traumatic arm, neck or shoulder complaints (aged 18–64 years) entered the cohort. Baseline data were collected on kinesiophobia using the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia, the 13-item adjusted version: TSK-AV, and on patient-, complaint-, and psychosocial variables using self-administered questionnaires. The mean TSK-AV score was calculated. In non-recovered patients the follow-up TSK-AV scores at 6 and 12 months were analyzed with the general linear mixed model. Variables associated with kinesiophobia at baseline were evaluated using multivariate linear regression analyses.
Results
The mean TSK-AV score at baseline was 24.8 [SD: 6.2]. Among non-recovered patients the mean TSK-AV score at baseline was 26.1 [SD: 6.6], which remained unchanged over 12- months follow-up period. The strongest associations with kinesiophobia were catastrophizing, disability, and comorbidity of musculoskeletal complaints. Additionally, having a shoulder complaint, low social support, high somatization and high distress contributed to the kinesiophobia score.
Conclusion
The mean TSK-AV score in our population seems comparable to those in other populations in primary care.
In patients who did not recover during the 12- month follow-up, the degree of kinesiophobia remained unchanged during this time period.
The variables associated with kinesiophobia at baseline appear to be in line with the fear-avoidance model.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-117
PMCID: PMC2219996  PMID: 18045457
9.  The Prevalence of low back pain in Africa: a systematic review 
Background
Low back pain (LBP) is the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition and one the most common causes of disability in the developed nations. Anecdotally, there is a general assumption that LBP prevalence in Africa is comparatively lower than in developed countries. The aim of this review was to systematically appraise the published prevalence studies conducted on the African continent to establish the prevalence of LBP in Africa.
Methods
A comprehensive search was conducted in April 2006. The following databases PEDro, Psychinfo, Science Direct, SportsDiscus, PubMed, CINAHL, Biblioline Pro-African Wide NiPAD and SA ePublications were individually searched using specifically developed search strategies for epidemiological research conducted on LBP amongst the African population. Two reviewers independently evaluated the methodological quality of the studies reviewed.
Results
A total of 27 eligible epidemiological studies were included in this review. The majority of the studies (63%) were conducted in South Africa (37%) and Nigeria (26%). The most common population group involved workers (48%), while scholars comprised 15% of the population. 67% of the studies were found to be methodologically sound, and the LBP prevalence of these were analyzed. The mean LBP point prevalence among the adolescents was 12% and among adults was 32%. The average one year prevalence of LBP among adolescents was 33% and among adults was 50%. The average lifetime prevalence of LBP among the adolescents was 36% and among adults was 62%.
Conclusion
The findings support the global burden of disease of LBP, in addition to suggesting that LBP prevalence among Africans is rising and is of concern. Further research into the most effective strategies to prevent and manage LBP in Africa is warranted.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-105
PMCID: PMC2198912  PMID: 17976240
10.  The Clinical Assessment Study of the Hand (CAS-HA): a prospective study of musculoskeletal hand problems in the general population 
Background
Pain in the hand affects an estimated 12–21% of the population, and at older ages the hand is one of the most common sites of pain and osteoarthritis. The association between symptomatic hand osteoarthritis and disability in everyday life has not been studied in detail, although there is evidence that older people with hand problems suffer significant pain and disability. Despite the high prevalence of hand problems and the limitations they cause in older adults, little attention has been paid to the hand by health planners and policy makers. We plan to conduct a prospective, population-based, observational cohort study designed in parallel with our previously reported cohort study of knee pain, to describe the course of musculoskeletal hand problems in older adults and investigate the relative merits of different approaches to classification and defining prognosis.
Methods/Design
All adults aged 50 years and over registered with two general practices in North Staffordshire will be invited to take part in a two-stage postal survey. Respondents to the survey who indicate that they have experienced hand pain or problems within the previous 12 months will be invited to attend a research clinic for a detailed assessment. This will consist of clinical interview, hand assessment, screening test of lower limb function, digital photography, plain x-rays, anthropometric measurement and brief self-complete questionnaire. All consenting clinic attenders will be followed up by (i) general practice medical record review, (ii) repeat postal questionnaire at 18-months, and (iii) repeat postal questionnaire at 3 years.
Discussion
This paper describes the protocol for the Clinical Assessment Study of the Hand (CAS-HA), a prospective, population-based, observational cohort study of community-dwelling older adults with hand pain and hand problems based in North Staffordshire.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-85
PMCID: PMC2000877  PMID: 17760988
11.  Methodological considerations for a randomised controlled trial of podiatry care in rheumatoid arthritis: lessons from an exploratory trial 
Background
Whilst evidence exists to support the use of single treatments such as orthoses and footwear, the effectiveness of podiatry-led care as a complex intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) related foot problems is unknown. The aim of this study was to undertake an exploratory randomised controlled parallel arm clinical trial (RheumAFooT) to inform the design and implementation of a definitive trial and to understand the potential benefits of this care.
Methods
Patients with a definite diagnosis of RA, stable drug management 3 months prior to entry, and a current history of foot problems (pain, deformity, stiffness, skin or nail lesions, or footwear problems) were recruited from a hospital outpatient rheumatology clinic and randomised to receive 12 months of podiatry treatment or no care. The primary outcome was change in foot health status using the impairment/footwear (LFISIF) and activity limitation/participation restriction (LFISAP) subscales of the Leeds Foot Impact Scale. Disease Activity Score (DAS), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score and walking speed (m/s) were also recorded.
Results
Of the 80 patients identified, 64 patients were eligible to participate in the pilot and 34 were recruited. 16 patients were randomised to receive podiatry led foot care and 18 received no care. Against a backdrop of stable disease (DAS and HAQ scores), there was a statistically significant between group difference in the change in foot health status for foot impairment (LFISIF) but not activity/participation (LFISAP) or function (walking speed) over 12 months. In the podiatry arm, 1 patient declined treatment following randomisation (did not want additional hospital visits) and 3 self-withdrew (lost to follow-up). Patients received an average of 3 consultations for assessment and treatment comprising routine care for skin and nail lesions (n = 3), foot orthoses (n = 9), footwear referral to the orthotist (n = 5), and ultrasound guided intra-articular steroid injection (n = 1).
Conclusion
In this exploratory trial patients were difficult to recruit (stable drug management and co-morbid disease) and retain (lack of benefit/additional treatment burden) but overall the intervention was safe (no adverse reactions). Twelve months of podiatry care maintained but did not improve foot health status. These observations are important for the design and implementation of a definitive randomised controlled trial.
Trial Registration
ISRCTN: 01982076
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-109
PMCID: PMC2225393  PMID: 17986338
12.  Characteristics of children with hip displacement in cerebral palsy 
Background
Hip dislocation in children with cerebral palsy (CP) is a common and severe problem. The dislocation can be avoided, by screening and preventive treatment of children with hips at risk. The aim of this study was to analyse the characteristics of children with CP who develop hip displacement, in order to optimise a hip surveillance programme.
Methods
In a total population of children with CP a standardised clinical and radiological follow-up of the hips was carried out as a part of a hip prevention programme. The present study is based on 212 children followed until 9–16 years of age.
Results
Of the 212 children, 38 (18%) developed displacement with Migration Percentage (MP) >40% and further 19 (9%) MP between 33 and 39%. Mean age at first registration of hip displacement was 4 years, but some hips showed MP > 40% already at two years of age. The passive range of hip motion at the time of first registration of hip displacement did not differ significantly from the findings in hips without displacement.
The risk of hip displacement varied according to CP-subtype, from 0% in children with pure ataxia to 79% in children with spastic tetraplegia. The risk of displacement (MP > 40%) was directly related to the level of gross motor function, classified according to the gross motor function classification system, GMFCS, from 0% in children in GMFCS level I to 64% in GMFCS level V.
Conclusion
Hip displacement in CP often occurs already at 2–3 years of age. Range of motion is a poor indicator of hips at risk. Thus early identification and early radiographic examination of children at risk is of great importance. The risk of hip displacement varies according to both CP-subtype and GMFCS. It is sometimes not possible to determine subtype before 4 years of age, and at present several definitions and classification systems are used. GMFCS is valid and reliable from 2 years of age, and it is internationally accepted.
We recommend a hip surveillance programme for children with CP with radiographic examinations based on the child's age and GMFCS level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-101
PMCID: PMC2194677  PMID: 17963501
13.  Locally applied Simvastatin improves fracture healing in mice 
Background
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, statins, are widely prescribed to lower cholesterol. High doses of orally administered simvastatin has previously been shown to improve fracture healing in a mouse femur fracture model. In this study, simvastatin was administered either subcutaneously or directly to the fracture area, with the goal of stimulating fracture repair at acceptable doses.
Methods
Femur fractures were produced in 70 mature male Balb-C mice and stabilized with marrow-nailing. Three experiments were performed. Firstly, 20 mice received subcutaneous injections of either simvastatin (20 mg) or vehicle. Secondly, 30 mice were divided into three groups of 10 mice receiving continuous subcutaneous delivery of the vehicle substance, the vehicle with 5 mg or with 10 mg of simvastatin per kg bodyweight per day. Finally, in 20 mice, a silicone tube was led from an osmotic mini-pump to the fracture area. In this way, 10 mice received an approximate local dose of simvastatin of 0.1 mg per kg per day for the duration of the experiment and 10 mice received the vehicle compound. All treatments lasted until the end of the experiment. Bilateral femurs were harvested 14 days post-operative. Biomechanical tests were performed by way of three-point bending. Data was analysed with ANOVA, Scheffé's post-hoc test and Student's unpaired t-test.
Results
With daily simvastatin injections, no effects could be demonstrated for any of the parameters examined. Continuous systemic delivery resulted in a 160% larger force at failure. Continuous local delivery of simvastatin resulted in a 170% larger force at failure as well as a twofold larger energy uptake.
Conclusion
This study found a dramatic positive effect on biomechanical parameters of fracture healing by simvastatin treatment directly applied to the fracture area.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-98
PMCID: PMC2200653  PMID: 17897477
14.  Osteoarthritis and functional disability: results of a cross sectional study among primary care patients in Germany 
Background
The aim of the study was to determine factors associated with functional disability in patients with OA.
Methods
1250 questionnaires were distributed to OA outpatients from 75 general practices; 1021 (81.6%) were returned. Questionnaires included sociodemographic data, the short form of the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale (AIMS2-SF), and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to assess concomitant depression. A hierarchical stepwise multiple regression analysis with the AIMS2-SF dimension "lower body" as dependent was performed.
Results
Main factors associated with functional disability were depression symptoms, as reflected in a high score of the PHQ-9 (beta = 0.446; p < 0.0009), pain as reflected in the AIMS2-SF symptom scale (beta = 0.412; p = 0.001), and few social contacts (beta = 0.201; p < 0.042). A high body mass index was associated with lower functional ability (beta = 0.332; p = 0.005) whereas a higher educational level (beta = -0.279; p = 0.029) predicted less impairment. Increased age was a weak predictor (beta = 0.178; p = 0.001) of disability. With a p of 0.062 the radiological severity according to the grading of Kellgren and Lawrence slightly surpassed the required significance level for remaining in the final regression model.
Conclusion
The results emphasize that psychological as well as physical factors need to be addressed similarly to improve functional ability of patients suffering from OA. More research with multifaceted and tailored interventions is needed to determine how these factors can be targeted appropriately.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-79
PMCID: PMC1963449  PMID: 17686172
15.  A theoretical model for the development of a diagnosis-based clinical decision rule for the management of patients with spinal pain 
Background
Spinal pain is a common problem, and disability related to spinal pain has great consequence in terms of human suffering, medical costs and costs to society. The traditional approach to the non-surgical management of patients with spinal pain, as well as to research in spinal pain, has been such that the type of treatment any given patient receives is determined more by what type of practitioner he or she sees, rather than by diagnosis. Furthermore, determination of treatment depends more on the type of practitioner than by the needs of the patient. Much needed is an approach to clinical management and research that allows clinicians to base treatment decisions on a reliable and valid diagnostic strategy leading to treatment choices that result in demonstrable outcomes in terms of pain relief and functional improvement. The challenges of diagnosis in patients with spinal pain, however, are that spinal pain is often multifactorial, the factors involved are wide ranging, and for most of these factors there exist no definitive objective tests.
Discussion
The theoretical model of a diagnosis-based clinical decision rule has been developed that may provide clinicians with an approach to non-surgical spine pain patients that allows for specific treatment decisions based on a specific diagnosis. This is not a classification scheme, but a thought process that attempts to identify most important features present in each individual patient. Presented here is a description of the proposed approach, in which reliable and valid assessment procedures are used to arrive at a working diagnosis which considers the disparate factors contributing to spinal pain. Treatment decisions are based on the diagnosis and the outcome of treatment can be measured.
Summary
In this paper, the theoretical model of a proposed diagnosis-based clinical decision rule is presented. In a subsequent manuscript, the current evidence for the approach will be systematically reviewed, and we will present a research strategy required to fill in the gaps in the current evidence, as well as to investigate the decision rule as a whole.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-75
PMCID: PMC1955449  PMID: 17683556
16.  The pectoralis minor length test: a study of the intra-rater reliability and diagnostic accuracy in subjects with and without shoulder symptoms 
Background
Postural abnormality and muscle imbalance are thought to contribute to pain and a loss of normal function in the upper body. A shortened pectoralis minor muscle is commonly identified as part of this imbalance. Clinical tests have been recommended to test for shortening of this muscle. The aim of this study was to evaluate the intra-rater reliability and diagnostic accuracy of the pectoralis minor length test.
Methods
Measurements were made in 45 subjects with and 45 subjects without shoulder symptoms. Measurements were made with the subjects lying in supine. In this position the linear distance from the treatment table to the posterior aspect of the acromion was measured on two occasions (separated by a minimum of 30 minutes and additional data collection on other subjects to reduce bias) by one rater. The reliability of the measurements was analyzed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), 95% confidence intervals (CI) and standard error of measurement (SEM). The diagnostic accuracy of the test was investigated by determining the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios of the test against a 'gold standard' reference. The assessor remained 'blinded' to data input and the measurements were staggered to reduce examiner bias.
Results
The pectoralis minor length test was found to have excellent intra-rater reliability for dominant and non-dominant side of the subjects without symptoms, and for the painfree and painful side of the subjects with symptoms. The values calculated for the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios suggest this test performed in the manner investigated in this study and recommended in the literature, lacks diagnostic accuracy.
Conclusion
The findings of this study suggest that although the pectoralis minor length test demonstrates acceptable clinical reliability, its lack of specificity suggests that clinicians using this test to inform the clinical reasoning process with regard treatment planning must do so with caution.
Trial registration
National Research Register: N0060148286
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-64
PMCID: PMC1934353  PMID: 17620136
17.  A mixed methods study to investigate needs assessment for knee pain and disability: population and individual perspectives 
Background
The new Musculoskeletal Services Framework outlines the importance of health care needs assessment. Our aim was to provide a model for this for knee pain and disability, describing felt need (individual assessment of a need for health care) and expressed need (demand for health care). This intelligence is required by health care planners in order to implement the new Framework.
Methods
A multi-method approach was used. A population survey (n = 5784) was administered to adults aged 50+ registered with 3 general practices. The questionnaire contained a Knee Pain Screening Tool to identify the prevalence of knee pain and health care use in the population, and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC). Survey responders who scored "severe" or "extreme" on at least one item on the pain or physical function scale on the WOMAC were categorised into "severe" groups. Qualitative interviews were undertaken with 22 survey responders to explore in detail the experience of living with knee pain and disability. A sample of interviewees (n = 10) completed an open format patient diary to explore the experience of knee pain in everyday life.
Results
The 12-month period prevalence of knee pain was 49.5%, of which half was severe. Severe difficulties were reported with domestic duties, bending, bathing, climbing stairs and getting in or out of a car. Some self-care is occurring. The majority (53%) of responders with severe pain or disability had not consulted their GP in the last 12 months. The qualitative study revealed reasons for this including a perception that knee pain is part of normal ageing, little effective prevention and treatment is available and the use of medications causes side effects and dependency.
Conclusion
This study adds to previous work by highlighting a gap between felt and expressed need and the reasons for this mismatch. There is evidence of self-management, but also missed opportunities for effective interventions (e.g. lifestyle advice). A targeted and integrated approach between clinicians and health care planners for primary and secondary prevention is required if aspects of the new Musculoskeletal Services Framework are to be successfully implemented.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-59
PMCID: PMC1925074  PMID: 17610732
18.  3D-MRI rendering of the anatomical structures related to acupuncture points of the Dai mai, Yin qiao mai and Yang qiao mai meridians within the context of the WOMED concept of lateral tension: implications for musculoskeletal disease 
Background
A conceptual model of lateral muscular tension in patients presenting thyroid associated ophthalmopathy (TAO) has been recently described. Clinical improvement has been achieved by using acupuncture on points belonging to the so-called extraordinary meridians. The aim of this study was to characterize the anatomical structures related to these acupuncture points by means of 3D MRI image rendering relying on external markers.
Methods
The investigation was carried out the index case patient of the lateral tension model. A licensed medical acupuncture practitioner located the following acupuncture points: 1) Yin qiao mai meridian (medial ankle): Kidney 3, Kidney 6, the plantar Kidney 6 (Nan jing description); 2) Yang qiao mai meridian (lateral ankle): Bladder 62, Bladder 59, Bladder 61, and the plantar Bladder 62 (Nan jing description); 3) Dai mai meridian (wait): Liver 13, Gall bladder 26, Gall bladder 27, Gall bladder 28, and Gall bladder 29. The points were marked by taping a nitro-glycerin capsule on the skin. Imaging was done on a Siemens Magnetom Avanto MR scanner using an array head and body coil. Mainly T1-weighted imaging sequences, as routinely used for patient exams, were used to obtain multi-slice images. The image data were rendered in 3D modus using dedicated software (Leonardo, Siemens).
Results
Points of the Dai mai meridian – at the level of the waist – corresponded to the obliquus externus abdominis and the obliquus internus abdominis. Points of the Yin qiao mai meridian – at the medial side of the ankle – corresponded to tendinous structures of the flexor digitorum longus as well as to muscular structures of the abductor hallucis on the foot sole. Points of the Yang qiao mai meridian – at the lateral side of the ankle – corresponded to tendinous structures of the peroneus brevis, the peroneous longus, and the lateral surface of the calcaneus and close to the foot sole to the abductor digiti minimi.
Conclusion
This non-invasive MRI investigation has revealed the anatomical relations of acupuncture points belonging to 3 of the so-called extraordinary meridians. We conclude that the clinically developed "WOMED concept of lateral tension" is related to tendino-muscular structures.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-33
PMCID: PMC1854901  PMID: 17425796
19.  Prognosis of chronic low back pain: design of an inception cohort study 
Background
Although clinical guidelines generally portray chronic low back pain as a condition with a poor prognosis this portrayal is based on studies of potentially unrepresentative survival cohorts. The aim of this study is to describe the prognosis of an inception cohort of people with chronic low back pain presenting for primary care.
Methods/Design
The study will be an inception cohort study with one year follow-up. Participants are drawn from a cohort of consecutive patients presenting with acute low back pain (less than 2 weeks duration) to primary care clinics in Sydney, Australia. Those patients who continue to experience pain at three months, and are therefore classified as having chronic back pain, are invited to participate in the current study. The cohort will be followed up by telephone at baseline, 9 months and 12 months after being diagnosed with chronic low back pain. Recovery from low back pain will be measured by sampling three different outcomes: pain intensity, interference with function due to pain, and work status. Life tables will be generated to determine the one year prognosis of chronic low back pain. Prognostic factors will be assessed using Cox regression.
Discussion
This study will determine the prognosis of chronic non-specific low back pain in a representative cohort of patients sourced from primary care. The results of this study will improve understanding of chronic low back pain, allowing clinicians to provide more accurate prognostic information to their patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-11
PMCID: PMC1800846  PMID: 17288586
20.  Segmental lumbar mobility in individuals with low back pain: in vivo assessment during manual and self-imposed motion using dynamic MRI 
Background
Altered spinal mobility is thought to be related to current or past episodes of low back pain; however evidence of that relationship in younger subjects has not been established. The purpose of this study was to compare lumbar segmental mobility in asymptomatic and symptomatic subjects during posterior to anterior (PA) manual spinal mobilization and a self-initiated prone press-up (PU) maneuver. We hypothesized that persons with central low back pain would have an altered lumbar segmental mobility pattern compared to those without pain.
Method
Forty-five individuals (age 32.1 ± 8.5) with non-specific low back pain and 20 persons (age 31.1 ± 7.0) without low back pain participated. Each subject underwent dynamic imaging of the lumbar spine during a PA mobilization procedure and while performing a PU. Segmental motion was quantified as the change in the intervertebral angle between the resting and end-range vertebral positions.
Results
The symptomatic group had a larger percentage of subjects with evidence of single level segmental hypermobility than the asymptomatic group during the PA (40.0% vs. 5%) and PU (26.7% vs. 15%) procedures. Single lumbar motion-segment analysis revealed hyper-mobility in symptomatic subjects at L5 – S1 (Chi-square = 10.0, p ≤ 0.01) and L4 – L5 (Chi-square = 4.18, p ≤ 0.05) during the PA test.
Conclusion
Persons with non-specific low back pain have a tendency to demonstrate single level lumbar segmental hypermobility when compared to age specific asymptomatic subjects.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-8
PMCID: PMC1794409  PMID: 17261197
21.  Lumbar position sense and the risk of low back injuries in college athletes: a prospective cohort study 
Background
Impaired proprioception in the lumbar spine has often been reported in people with low back pain. However, no prospective studies exist to assert the cause and effect of this association. We hypothesized that athletes with a history of low back injury (LBI) would demonstrate poorer lumbar position sense (PS) than athletes without a history of LBI, and that this deficit would be a risk factor for future LBI.
Methods
This was a prospective cohort study with 2–3 year follow-up. Lumbar spine PS in the transverse plane was evaluated in 292 athletes using three tests: 1) passive and 2) active trunk repositioning, and 3) motion perception threshold. Mean absolute (accuracy) and variable (precision) errors were computed.
Results
There were no significant differences in the repositioning errors or motion perception threshold between athletes with and without a history of LBI or between those who did and did not get injured during the follow-up. Active trunk repositioning resulted in smaller errors than passive repositioning (1.6°± 0.8°) versus 2.1°± 1.0°) and 1.7°± 0.8°) versus 2.3°± 1.1°) for the absolute and relative errors, respectively).
Conclusion
Poor trunk PS in transverse plane is not associated with LBI in athletes, nor does it appear that poor trunk PS predisposes athletes to LBI.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-129
PMCID: PMC2259335  PMID: 18166132
22.  Expression of genes for bone morphogenetic proteins BMP-2, BMP-4 and BMP-6 in various parts of the human skeleton 
Background
Differences in duration of bone healing in various parts of the human skeleton are common experience for orthopaedic surgeons. The reason for these differences is not obvious and not clear.
Methods
In this paper we decided to measure by the use of real-time RT-PCR technique the level of expression of genes for some isoforms of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), whose role is proven in bone formation, bone induction and bone turnover. Seven bone samples recovered from various parts of skeletons from six cadavers of young healthy men who died in traffic accidents were collected. Activity of genes for BMP-2, -4 and -6 was measured by the use of fluorescent SYBR Green I.
Results
It was found that expression of m-RNA for BMP-2 and BMP-4 is higher in trabecular bone in epiphyses of long bones, cranial flat bones and corpus mandibulae then in the compact bone of diaphyses of long bones. In all samples examined the expression of m-RNA for BMP-4 was higher than for BMP-2.
Conclusion
It was shown that m-RNA for BMP-6 is not expressed in the collected samples at all. It is postulated that differences in the level of activation of genes for BMPs is one of the important factors which determine the differences in duration of bone healing of various parts of the human skeleton.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-128
PMCID: PMC2244626  PMID: 18162128
23.  Oxidative stress as a risk factor for osteoporosis in elderly Mexicans as characterized by antioxidant enzymes 
Background
Oxidative stress (OxS) has recently been linked with osteoporosis; however, we do not know the influence of OxS as an independent risk factor for this disease.
Methods
We conducted a case-control study in 94 subjects ≥60 years of age, 50 healthy and 44 with osteoporosis. We measured total antioxidant status, plasma lipid peroxides, antioxidant activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and calculated the SOD/GPx ratio. Bone mineral density was obtained at the peripheral DXA in calcaneus using a portable Norland Apollo Densitometer®. Osteoporosis was considered when subjects had a BMD of 2.5 standard deviations or more below the mean value for young adults.
Results
GPx antioxidant activity was significantly lower in the group of subjects with osteoporosis in comparison with the group of healthy subjects (p < 0.01); in addition, the SOD/GPx ratio was significantly higher in the group of individuals with osteoporosis (p < 0.05). In logistic regression analysis, we found OxS to be an independent risk factor for osteoporosis (odds ratio [OR] = 2.79; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 1.08–7.23; p = 0.034).
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that OxS is an independent risk factor for osteoporosis linked to increase of SOD/GPx ratio.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-124
PMCID: PMC2225394  PMID: 18088440
24.  INvestigational Vertebroplasty Efficacy and Safety Trial (INVEST): a randomized controlled trial of percutaneous vertebroplasty 
Background
The treatment of painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures has historically been limited to several weeks of bed rest, anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications, calcitonin injections, or external bracing. Percutaneous vertebroplasty (the injection of bone cement into the fractured vertebral body) is a relatively new procedure used to treat these fractures. There is increasing interest to examine the efficacy and safety of percutaneous vertebroplasty and to study the possibility of a placebo effect or whether the pain relief is from local anesthetics placed directly on the bone during the vertebroplasty procedure.
Methods/Designs
Our goal is to test the hypothesis that patients with painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures who undergo vertebroplasty have less disability and pain at 1 month than patients who undergo a control intervention. The control intervention is placement of local anesthesia near the fracture, without placement of cement. One hundred sixty-six patients with painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures will be recruited over 5 years from US and foreign sites performing the vertebroplasty procedure. We will exclude patients with malignant tumor deposit (multiple myeloma), tumor mass or tumor extension into the epidural space at the level of the fracture.
We will randomly assign participants to receive either vertebroplasty or the control intervention.
Subjects will complete a battery of validated, standardized measures of pain, functional disability, and health related quality of life at baseline and at post-randomization time points (days 1, 2, 3, and 14, and months 1, 3, 6, and 12). Both subjects and research interviewers performing the follow-up assessments will be blinded to the randomization assignment. Subjects will have a clinic visit at months 1 and 12. Spine X-rays will be obtained at the end of the study (month 12) to determine subsequent fracture rates. Our co-primary outcomes are the modified Roland score and pain numerical rating scale at 1 month.
Discussion
Although extensively utilized throughout North America for palliation of pain, vertebroplasty still has not undergone rigorous study. The study outlined above represents the first randomized, controlled study that can account for a placebo effect in the setting of vertebroplasty.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN81871888
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-126
PMCID: PMC2257946  PMID: 18096050
25.  Outcome and quality of life after surgically treated ankle fractures in patients 65 years or older 
Background
Despite high incidence of ankle fractures in the elderly, studies evaluating outcome and impact of quality of life in this age group specifically are sparse. The aim of this study was to evaluate outcome and quality of life 6 and 12 months after injury in patients 65 years or older who had been operated on due to an ankle fracture.
Methods
Sixty patients 65 years or older were invited to participate in the study. 6 and 12 months after the injury a questionnaire including inquiry to participate, the Olerud-Molander Ankle Score (OMAS), Short-Form 36 (SF-36), Linear Analogue Scale (LAS), Self-rated Ankle Function and some supplementary questions was sent home to the patients. The supplementary questions concerned subjective experience of ankle instability, sporting and physical activity level before injury and recaptured activity level at follow-ups, need of walking aid before injury, state of living before injury and at follow-ups and co-morbidities. After the 12-month follow-up the patients were also called for a radiological examination.
Results
Fifty patients (83%) answered the questionnaire at 6-month and 46 (77%) at the 12-month follow-up. Although, 45 (90%) fractures were low-energy trauma 44 (88%) were bi- or trimalleolar and post-operative reduction results were complete in 23 (46%) ankles. The median OMAS improved from 60 (Interquartile range (IQR) 36) at 6-month to 70 (IQR 35) at 12-month (p = 0.002), but at 12-month still sixty percent or more of the patients reported pain, swelling, problems when stair-climbing and reduced activities of daily life. Twenty (40%) rated their ankle function as 'good' or 'very good' at 6-month and 30 (60%) at 12-month. Forty-one (82%) were physically active before injury but still one year after only 18/41 had returned to their pre-injury physical activity level. According to SF-36 four dimensions differed from the age- and gender matched normative data of the Swedish population, 'physical function', 'role physical' and 'role emotional' were below norms at 6-month for women (p = 0.010, p = 0.024 and 0.031) and 'general health' was above norms at 12-month for men (p = 0.044).
Conclusion
One year after surgically treated ankle fractures a majority of patients continue to have symptoms and reported functional limitations. However, SF-36 scores indicate that only females had functional status below the age- and gender matched normative data of the Swedish population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-8-127
PMCID: PMC2259334  PMID: 18096062

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