Open Access Open Badges Research article

Diagnostic value of the lumbar extension-loading test in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis: a cross-sectional study

Naoto Takahashi*, Shin-ichi Kikuchi, Shoji Yabuki, Koji Otani and Shin-ichi Konno

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine, 1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:259  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-259

Published: 31 July 2014



The gait-loading test is a well known, important test with which to assess the involved spinal level in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. The lumbar extension-loading test also functions as a diagnostic loading test in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis; however, its efficacy remains uncertain. The purpose of this study was to compare the diagnostic value of the lumbar extension-loading test with that of the gait-loading test in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.


A total of 116 consecutive patients (62 men and 54 women) diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis were included in this cross-sectional study of the lumbar extension-loading test. Subjective symptoms and objective neurological findings (motor, sensory, and reflex) were examined before and after the lumbar extension-loading and gait-loading tests. The efficacy of the lumbar extension-loading test for establishment of a correct diagnosis of the involved spinal level was assessed and compared with that of the gait-loading test.


There were no significant differences between the lumbar extension-loading test and the gait-loading test in terms of subjective symptoms, objective neurological findings, or changes in the involved spinal level before and after each loading test.


The lumbar extension-loading test is useful for assessment of lumbar spinal stenosis pathology and is capable of accurately determining the involved spinal level.

Lumbar extension-loading test; Gait-loading test; Lumbar spinal stenosis; Diagnostic value; Prospective cohort study; Neurogenic intermittent claudication; Subjective symptoms; Objective neurological findings; Provocation test; Pathology