STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional cohort study of a general population. OBJECTIVE: To describe associations between "abnormal" lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings and low back pain (LBP) in 13-year old children. SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND DATA: Very little is known about the distribution of lumbar MRI findings and how they are associated with LBP in youngsters. METHODS: Disc abnormalities, as well as nerve root compromise, endplate changes, and anterolisthesis were identified from MRI studies of 439 children. LBP was identified from structured interviews. Associations are presented as odds ratios (OR). RESULTS: Signs of disc degeneration were noted in approximately 1/3 of the subjects. Reduced signal intensity and irregular nucleus shape in the upper 3 lumbar discs were significantly associated with LBP within the last month (OR, 2.5-3.6), whereas reduced signal intensity and disc protrusion at L5-NS1 were associated with seeking care (OR, 2.8 and 7.7, respectively). Endplate changes in relation to the L3 discs were associated with LBP month and seeking care (OR, between 9.7 and 22.2). Anterolisthesis at L5 was associated with seeking care (OR, 4.3). There were obvious differences between genders: degenerative disc changes in the upper lumbar spine were more strongly associated with LBP in boys, while disc abnormalities in the lower lumbar spine were more strongly associated with seeking care in girls. CONCLUSIONS: In children, degenerative disc findings are relatively common, and some are associated with LBP. There appears to be a gender difference. Disc protrusions, endplate changes, and anterolisthesis in the lumbar spine were strongly associated with seeking care for LBP.
A "randomized"/stratified, single-blinded, parallel-group study. OBJECTIVE.: To evaluate 3 structurally different mattresses relative influence on patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP).
In several advertisements, it is proclaimed that certain mattresses have a positive effect on LBP, and especially a hard mattress is commonly believed to have a positive effect.
One hundred sixty CLBP patients were randomized to 1 of 3 groups, having a mattress/bed mounted in their sleeping room for 1 month. The beds were: (1) waterbed (Akva), (2) body-conforming foam mattress (Tempur), and (3) a hard mattress (Innovation Futon). At baseline and after 4 weeks, a blinded observer interviewed the patients on LBP levels (0-10), daily function (activities of daily living, 0-30), and on the amount of sleeping hours/night.
Because of dropout of 19 patients before baseline, the analyses were performed on 141 patients. During the 1-month trial period another 27 patients stopped ahead of time, which were accounted for by "worse case" as well as "no-change" analyses. Both the waterbed and the foam mattress seemed superior to the hard mattress, especially when using the probably most relevant "worst case" data. There were no relevant difference between the effects of the water bed and the foam bed.
The Waterbed and foam mattress' did influence back symptoms, function and sleep more positively as apposed to the hard mattress, but the differences were small.
Vertebral endplate signal changes (VESC) are more common among patients with low back pain (LBP) and/or sciatica than in people who are not seeking care for back pain. The distribution and characteristics of VESC have been described in people from clinical and non-clinical populations. However, while the clinical course of VESC has been studied in patients, the natural course in the general population has not been reported. The objectives of this prospective observational study were to describe: 1) the distribution and characteristics of VESC in the lumbar spine, 2) its association with disc degeneration, and 3) its natural course from 40 to 44 years of age.
Three-hundred-and-forty-four individuals (161 men and 183 women) sampled from the Danish general population had MRI at the age of 40 and again at the age of 44. The following MRI findings were evaluated using standardised evaluation protocols: type, location, and size of VESC, disc signal, and disc height. Characteristics and distribution of VESC were analysed by frequency tables. The association between VESC and disc degeneration was analysed by logistic regression analysis. The change in type and size of VESC was analysed by cross-tabulations of variables obtained at age 40 and 44 and tested using McNemar's test of symmetry.
Two-thirds (67%) of VESC found in this study were located in the lower part of the spine (L4-S1). VESC located at disc levels L1-L3 were generally small and located only in the anterior part of the vertebra, whereas those located at disc levels L4-S1 were more likely to extend further into the vertebra and along the endplate. Moreover, the more the VESC extended into the vertebra, the more likely it was that the adjacent disc was degenerated. The prevalence of endplate levels with VESC increased significantly from 6% to 9% from age 40 to 44. Again, VESC that was only observed in the endplate was more likely to come and go over the four-year period compared with those which extended further into the vertebra, where it generally persisted.
The prevalence of VESC increased significantly over the four-year period. Furthermore, the results from this study indicate that the distribution of VESC, its association with disc degeneration and its natural course, is dependent on the size of the signal changes.
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Local sensitization to noxious stimuli has been previously described in acute whiplash injury and has been suggested to be a risk factor for chronic sequelae following acute whiplash injury. In this study, we prospectively examined the development of tender points and mechano-sensitivity in 157 acute whiplash injured patients, who fulfilled criteria for WAD grade 2 (n=153) or grade 3 (n=4) seen about 5 days after injury (4.8+/-2.3) and who subsequently had or had not recovered 1 year after a cervical sprain. Tender point scores and stimulus-response function for mechanical pressure were determined in injured and non-injured body regions at specific time-points after injury. Thirty-six of 157 WAD grade 2 patients (22.9%) had not recovered, defined as reduced work capacity after 1 year. Non-recovered patients had higher total tender point scores after 12 (p
The mechanisms for developing long-lasting neck pain after whiplash injuries are still largely unrevealed. In the present study it was investigated whether a kyphotic deformity of the cervical spine, as opposed to a straight or a lordotic spine, was associated with the symptoms at baseline, and with the prognosis one year following a whiplash injury. MRI was performed in 171 subjects about 10 d after the accident, and 104 participated in the pain recording at 1-year follow-up. It was demonstrated that postures as seen on MRI can be reliably categorized and that a straight spine is the most frequent appearance of the cervical spine in supine MRI. In relation to symptoms it was seen that a kyphotic deformity was associated with reporting the highest intensities of headache at baseline, but not with an increased risk of long-lasting neck pain or headache. In conclusion, a kyphotic deformity is not significantly associated with chronic whiplash associated pain. Moreover, it is a clear clinical implication that pain should not be ascribed to a straight spine on MRI. We suggest that future trials on cervical posture focus upon the presence of kyphotic deformity rather than just on the absence of lordosis.
Danish Center for Sleep Medicine, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Center for Healthy Aging, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. email@example.com
National register-based matched case-control study.
The aim of this study was to estimate the direct and indirect costs of neck injuries, except fractures, in a national sample of patients and their spouses.
Despite neck injuries causing significant socioeconomic burdens, there is insufficient information about the time course, as well as the effect on their spouses.
Using records from the Danish National Patient Registry 1998-2009, all patients with a diagnosis of neck injury and their spouses were identified and compared with randomly chosen controls matched for age, sex, geographical area, and civil status. Direct costs included frequency of primary and hospital sector contacts and procedures and medication. Indirect costs included the effect on labor supply. Social transfer payments were included to illustrate the effect on national accounts. All cost data were extracted from national databases.
The register contributed 94,224 patients, and 372,341 matched controls were identified. The percentages of married or cohabiting individuals were approximately 47.5% in both groups. Patients with neck injury had significantly higher rates of health-related contacts, medication use, and higher socioeconomic costs than controls. To a lesser extent, they also had lower employment rates, and those employed generally had lower incomes. Furthermore, the patients had already presented negative social- and health-related status up to 11 years before the first diagnosis, which became more pronounced for those with the highest costs. The health effects on costs were present regardless of age group and sex, and it was also seen for the patients' spouses.
Neck injuries are associated with major socioeconomic consequences for patients, their spouses, and the society. However, the increased expenses during subsequent years cannot be explained by the injury alone, because these patients already had elevated expenses prior to the injury. This indicates some selection of increased vulnerability for both patients and their spouses.
Cross-sectional cohort study of a general population.
To investigate "abnormal" lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, and their prevalence and associations with low back pain (LBP).
The clinical relevance of various "abnormal" findings in the lumbar spine is unclear. Distinguishing between inevitable age-related findings and degenerative findings with deleterious consequences is a challenge.
Lumbar spine MRI was obtained in 412, 40-year-old individuals. Predefined "abnormal" MRI findings were interpreted without any knowledge of patient symptoms. Associations between MRI abnormalities and LBP were calculated using odds ratios. The "overall picture" of each MRI finding was established on the basis of the frequencies, diagnostic values, and the strength and consistency of associations.
Most "abnormal" MRI findings were found at the lowest lumbar levels. Irregular nucleus shape and reduced disc height were common (>50% of individuals). Relatively common (25% to 50%) were hypointense disc signal, anular tears, high intensity zones, disc protrusions, endplate changes, zygapophyseal joint degeneration, asymmetry, and foraminal stenosis. Nerve root compromise, Modic changes, central spinal stenosis, and anterolisthesis/retrolisthesis were rare (4). Significantly positive associations with all LBP variables were seen for hypointense disc signals, reduced disc height, and Modic changes. All disc "abnormalities" except protrusion were moderately associated with LBP during the past year.
Most degenerative disc "abnormalities" were moderately associated with LBP. The strongest associations were noted for Modic changes and anterolisthesis. Further studies are needed to define clinical relevance.
BACKGROUND: Although the clinical usefulness of motion palpation has not been established, it is one of the most commonly used diagnostic methods by chiropractors. Notably, its sensitivity, specificity, and validity in general have not been adequately studied, and most study samples have consisted of student volunteers. OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of positive motion-palpation findings (so-called fixations and spontaneous pain response) in relation to self-reported low back pain status and to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the motion-palpation technique carried out on the sacroiliac and lumbar joints. DESIGN: Study subjects were examined by 1 examiner (out of 7 possible), who was unaware of their low back pain status. Information on low back pain was then collected in a self-report questionnaire. SETTING: Research laboratory at the Odense University Hospital, Denmark. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred eighty-four twins, consisting of a subset of healthy twins taken from a panel of population-generated twins aged 19 to 42 years, made up the study sample. Examiners consisted of 7 biomechanics (chiropractic) students from the University of Southern Denmark who were proficient in motion palpation. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence rates of motion palpation-determined fixations and of spontaneous pain reactions in response to motion palpation were studied in relation to anatomic area, self-reported low back pain status, and each other. RESULTS: The point period prevalence of low back pain was 14%. Fixations were found in 43% of the study sample, and 25% appeared to have a painful reaction to motion palpation. There was no logical pattern of fixations and spontaneous pain reactions in relation to the low back pain status. The sensitivity was generally low (always below 60%) for fixations and pain, whereas the specificity was higher, significantly so for pain in the mid lumbar area. There was no strong association between fixations and the examiners' interpretation of a spontaneous pain reaction in response to motion palpation. CONCLUSION: Motion palpation does not appear to be a good method to differentiate persons with or without low back pain. It is possible to dissociate the findings of fixations and those of pain reactions.
Vertebral endplate signal changes (VESC), also known as Modic changes, have been reported to be associated with low back pain (LBP). However, little is known about predisposing factors for the development of new VESC. The aim of this study was to investigate the predictive value of lifestyle factors and disc-related magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in relation to the development of new VESC. This prospective observational study included 344 people from the Danish general population who had an MRI and completed LBP questionnaires at the age of 40 and again at 44 years. Potential predictors of new VESC were female gender, disc-related MRI findings (disc degeneration, disc bulges, disc herniation, and other endplate changes) and lifestyle factors [high physical work or leisure activity, high body mass index (BMI), and heavy smoking]. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to identify predictors of new VESC. New VESC at the age of 44 appeared in 67 of the 344. The majority (84%) of these new signal changes were type 1 VESC and almost half (45%) were only in the endplate and did not extend into the vertebral body. In the multivariate analysis, lumbar disc levels with disc degeneration, bulges or herniations at 40 were the only predictors of new VESC at age 44. Therefore, the development of new VESC at the age of 44 appears to be based on the status and dynamics of the disc, rather than being the result of gender or lifestyle factors such as smoking and physical load.
BACKGROUND: Active approaches including both specific and unspecific exercise are probably the most widely recommended treatment for patients with chronic low back pain but it is not known exactly which types of exercise provide the most benefit. Nordic Walking - power walking using ski poles - is a popular and fast growing type of exercise in Northern Europe that has been shown to improve cardiovascular metabolism. Until now, no studies have been performed to investigate whether Nordic Walking has beneficial effects in relation to back pain. METHODS: A total of 151 patients with low back and/or leg pain of greater than eight weeks duration were recruited from a hospital based outpatient back pain clinic. Patients continuing to have pain greater than three on the 11-point numeric rating scale after a multidisciplinary intervention were included. Fifteen patients were unable to complete the baseline evaluation and 136 patients were randomized to receive A) Nordic walking supervised by a specially trained instructor twice a week for eight weeks B) One-hour instruction in Nordic walking by a specially trained instructor followed by advice to perform Nordic walking at home as much as they liked for eight weeks or C) Individual oral information consisting of advice to remain active and about maintaining the daily function level that they had achieved during their stay at the backcenter. Primary outcome measures were pain and disability using the Low Back Pain Rating Scale, and functional limitation further assessed using the Patient Specific Function Scale. Furthermore, information on time off work, use of medication, and concurrent treatment for their low back pain was collected. Objective measurements of physical activity levels for the supervised and unsupervised Nordic walking groups were performed using accelerometers. Data were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis. RESULTS: No mean differences were found between the three groups in relation to any of the outcomes at baseline. For pain, disability, and patient specific function the supervised Nordic walking group generally faired best however no statistically significant differences were found. Regarding the secondary outcome measures, patients in the supervised group tended to use less pain medication, to seek less concurrent care for their back pain, at the eight-week follow-up. There was no difference between physical activity levels for the supervised and unsupervised Nordic walking groups. No negative side effects were reported. CONCLUSION: We did not find statistically significant differences between eight weeks of supervised or unsupervised Nordic walking and advice to remain active in a group of chronic low back pain patients. Nevertheless, the greatest average improvement tended to favor the supervised Nordic walking group and - taking into account other health related benefits of Nordic walking - this form of exercise may potentially be of benefit to selected groups of chronic back pain patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION: http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov # NCT00209820.