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The Association of MRI Findings and Long-Term Disability in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain

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STUDY DESIGN: Longitudinal cohort study with 13-year follow-up.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether long-term disability is associated with baseline degenerative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with low back pain (LBP).

METHODS: In 2004-2005, patients aged 18 to 60 years with chronic LBP were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial and lumbar MRI was performed. Patients completed the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the LBP Rating Scale, at baseline and 13 years after the MRI. Multivariate regression analysis was performed with 13-year RMDQ as the dependent variable and baseline disc degeneration (DD, Pfirrmann grade), Modic changes (MC), facet joint degeneration (FJD, Fujiwara grade) smoking status, body mass index, and self-reported weekly physical activity at leisure as independent variables.

RESULTS: Of 204 patients with baseline MRI, 170 (83%) were available for follow-up. Of these, 88 had Pfirrmann grade >III (52%), 67 had MC (39%) and 139 had Fujiwara grade >2 (82%) on at least 1 lumbar level. Only MC (β = -0.15, P = .031) and weekly physical activity at leisure (β = -0.51, P < .001) were significantly, negatively, associated with 13-year RMDQ-score (R2 = 0.31).

CONCLUSION: DD and FJD were not associated with long-term disability. Baseline MC and weekly physical activity at leisure were statistically significantly associated with less long-term disability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Volume11
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)633-639
Number of pages7
ISSN2192-5682
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

    Research areas

  • MRI, Modic changes, degeneration, disability, long-term follow-up, low back pain (LBP)

ID: 62387075