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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Brinjikji 2015.

Disc degeneration is more common in people with low back pain

Brinjikji W, Diehn FE, Jarvik JG, Carr CM, Kallmes DF, Murad MH, Luetmer PH. MRI Findings of Disc Degeneration are More Prevalent in Adults with Low Back Pain than in Asymptomatic Controls: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Dec;36(12):2394–9. PubMed #26359154.
Tags: back pain, spine, arthritis, aging, neck, etiology, biomechanics, pain problems, head/neck, pro

PainSci summary of Brinjikji 2015?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★★?5-star ratings are for sentinel studies, excellent experiments with meaningful results. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This is one half of a tale of two papers: a pair published by the same researchers, who looked at a whole lot of MRI pictures of spines. The other paper (Brinjikji) presents evidence that signs of spinal degeneration are present in very high percentages of healthy people with no problem at all.

Good to know.

But this paper presents evidence that degenerative features visible on MRI are nevertheless “more prevalent in adults 50 years of age or younger with back pain compared with asymptomatic individuals.”

Also good to know.

Delicious cognitive dissonance? 😜 The take-home message is actually just a nice, reasonable compromise between two well-known viewpoints: degenerative changes matter less than many patients and professionals still assume, and are not an adequate foundation for many popular treatments, but they do still matter. Duh.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Imaging features of spine degeneration are common in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. We compared the prevalence of MR imaging features of lumbar spine degeneration in adults 50 years of age and younger with and without self-reported low back pain.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a meta-analysis of studies reporting the prevalence of degenerative lumbar spine MR imaging findings in asymptomatic and symptomatic adults 50 years of age or younger. Symptomatic individuals had axial low back pain with or without radicular symptoms. Two reviewers evaluated each article for the following

OUTCOMES: disc bulge, disc degeneration, disc extrusion, disc protrusion, annular fissures, Modic 1 changes, any Modic changes, central canal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and spondylolysis. The meta-analysis was performed by using a random-effects model.

RESULTS: An initial search yielded 280 unique studies. Fourteen (5.0%) met the inclusion criteria (3097 individuals; 1193, 38.6%, asymptomatic; 1904, 61.4%, symptomatic). Imaging findings with a higher prevalence in symptomatic individuals 50 years of age or younger included disc bulge (OR, 7.54; 95% CI, 1.28-44.56; P = .03), spondylolysis (OR, 5.06; 95% CI, 1.65-15.53; P < .01), disc extrusion (OR, 4.38; 95% CI, 1.98-9.68; P < .01), Modic 1 changes (OR, 4.01; 95% CI, 1.10-14.55; P = .04), disc protrusion (OR, 2.65; 95% CI, 1.52-4.62; P < .01), and disc degeneration (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.21-4.15, P = .01). Imaging findings not associated with low back pain included any Modic change (OR, 1.62; 95% CI, 0.48-5.41, P = .43), central canal stenosis (OR, 20.58; 95% CI, 0.05-798.77; P = .32), high-intensity zone (OR = 2.10; 95% CI, 0.73-6.02; P = .17), annular fissures (OR = 1.79; 95% CI, 0.97-3.31; P = .06), and spondylolisthesis (OR = 1.59; 95% CI, 0.78-3.24; P = .20).

CONCLUSIONS: Meta-analysis demonstrates that MR imaging evidence of disc bulge, degeneration, extrusion, protrusion, Modic 1 changes, and spondylolysis are more prevalent in adults 50 years of age or younger with back pain compared with asymptomatic individuals.

related content

These five articles on cite Brinjikji 2015 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: