Testing walking performance in patients with low back pain: will two minutes do instead of six minutes?

Review written by Dr Mariana Wingood info

Key Points

  1. Individuals with low back pain (LBP) often report walking difficulty.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

For many individuals with low back pain (LBP) an important goal is maximizing functional outcomes, including walking (1). Writing functional outcome goals requires standardized assessment measures such as the six-minute walk test (6MWT). The 6MWT has undergone multiple thorough psychometric evaluations and has been found to be valid and reliable across a variety of patient-populations (2). However, when one considers the standardized steps and directions of the 6MWT, including taking pre and post-vitals, administrating the 6MWT can take up to ten minutes, which may not be feasible for fast-paced clinical practice. Thus, the 2-minute walk test (2MWT) is often considered a more feasible option. However, insight into the 2MWT test’s psychometric properties among individuals with LBP is limited.

The primary aim of this study was to assess the correlation between the distance walked during the first two minutes of the 6MWT and the entire 6MWT in patients with LBP. The secondary aims were to 1) Evaluate the 2MWT’s ability to predict the 6MWT results, 2) Assess correlations between both tests, and 3) Assess the tests ability to discriminate between high and low levels of disability, pain intensity, and fear avoidance.

The 6MWT has undergone multiple thorough psychometric evaluations and has been found to be valid and reliable across a variety of patient-populations.
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This means that 6MWT and 2MWT can be used to measure initial levels of how LBP impacts an individual’s walking, and how the physical therapist’s interventions have reduced this impact.

METHODS

Design: Cross-sectional.

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