MRI back pain data won't change treatment results

March 1, 2007

The presence of common structural abnormalities identified by MRI in chronic nonspecific low back pain patients has no bearing on their responses to conservative treatment, according to a signficant study published in the journal Spine.

The presence of common structural abnormalities identified by MRI in chronic nonspecific low back pain patients has no bearing on their responses to conservative treatment, according to a signficant study published in the journal Spine.

Dr. Frank Kleinstuck and colleagues at the Schulthess Klinik's Spine Unit in Zurich prospectively obtained T2-weighted, 4-mm spin-echo MRI sequences of the lumbar spine of 53 chronic nonspecific low back pain patients prior to participation in a three-month exercise therapy program. They analyzed the presence or absence of abnormalities in relation to disability and back pain level (average to worst) before beginning the program, after its completion, and 12 months later. They found an association only between MRI-detected high-intensity zones and lower average pain at the 12-month follow-up.