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The Effectiveness of Walking Stick Use for Neurogenic Claudication: Results From a Randomized Trial and the Effects on Walking Tolerance and Posture

      Abstract

      Comer CM, Johnson MI, Marchant PR, Redmond AC, Bird HA, Conaghan PG. The effectiveness of walking stick use for neurogenic claudication: results from a randomized trial and the effects on walking tolerance and posture.

      Objectives

      To determine the immediate effects of using a stick on walking tolerance and on the potential explanatory variable of posture, and to provide a preliminary evaluation of the effects of daily walking stick use on symptoms and function for people with neurogenic claudication.

      Design

      A 2-phase study of neurogenic claudication patients comprising a randomized trial of 2 weeks of home use of a walking stick and a crossover study comparing walking tolerance and posture with and without a walking stick.

      Setting

      A primary care–based musculoskeletal service.

      Participants

      Patients aged 50 years or older with neurogenic claudication symptoms (N=46; 24 women, 22 men, mean age=71.26y) were recruited.

      Intervention

      Walking stick.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Phase 1 of the trial used the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire symptom severity and physical function scores to measure outcome. The total walking distance during a shuttle walking test and the mean lumbar spinal posture (measured by using electronic goniometry) were used as the primary outcome measurements in the second phase.

      Results

      Forty of the participants completed phase 1 of the trial, and 40 completed phase 2. No significant differences in symptom severity or physical function were shown in score improvements for walking stick users (stick user scores − control scores) in the 2-week trial (95% confidence interval [CI], −.24 to .28 and −.10 to .26, respectively). In the second phase of the trial, the ratio of the shuttle walking distance with a stick to without a stick showed no significance (95% CI, .959–1.096) between the groups. Furthermore, the use of a walking stick did not systematically promote spinal flexion; no significant difference was shown for mean lumbar spinal flexion for stick use versus no stick (95% CI, .351°–.836°).

      Conclusions

      The prescription of a walking stick does not improve walking tolerance or systematically alter the postural mechanisms associated with symptoms in neurogenic claudication.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), NC (neurogenic claudication)
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