Background Degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a prevalent condition in adults over the age of 55 years. The condition is associated with activity limitations that are related to increased pain when engaging in weight-bearing activities, such as walking and standing, and release of pain while sitting down or bending forward. The limitation on ambulation is also associated with impaired balance although the types of balance problems are sparsely described in this patient group. The purpose of this study was to assess dynamic balance in persons with LSS by the Mini-BESTest and explore the associations with self-reported balance and functional disability. Methods Sixty two participants were included in this cross-sectional study. The main outcome measure was the Mini-BESTest, providing a total score and sub-scores for 4 balance control systems (Anticipatory Adjustment, Reactive Response, Sensory Orientation, Stability of Gait). The Swiss Spinal Stenosis Questionnaire provided sub-scores for self-reported balance problems and walking function (FUNC). Results The participants showed large inter-individual variation in all measures of balance. The Mini-BESTest score ranged from very good to poor and the mean value was 22.8 (SD 3.5). Nineteen participants (31%) reported having frequent balance problems. Logistic regression analyses showed that both the total Mini-BESTest score (OR (95% CI) 1.6 (1.2, 2.0)(P = .001) and 3 of the 4 balance control systems (Anticipatory Adjustment, Sensory Orientation, Stability in Gait) were significantly associated with self-reported balance problems (.001 ≤ P ≤ .01). The strongest association was seen between Sensory Orientation and balance problems, implying that it is 4.4 times more likely that persons would have no or occasional balance problems with each unit of increase in Sensory Orientation. The total score for the Mini-BESTest was significantly associated with FUNC (P = .042). Conclusions The dynamic balance of persons with LSS showed a large heterogeneity with a large fraction of the participants displaying no balance impairments. The test results were associated with the participants’ self-reported balance problems and walking function. The Mini-BESTest thus appears to provide additional information to self-reported disability, and by identifying different kind of balance control impairments, the Mini-BESTest could be useful for physiotherapists working with person-centered rehabilitation in persons with LSS.
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