PainSci summary of Langevin 2009?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com 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. ★★★☆☆3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. 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.
Researchers measured the thickness of lumbar connective tissues with ultrasound in 60 chronic low back pain patients and 47 health people. The fascia was about 25% thicker in people with back pain, which is quite a bit, and a surprising finding with potentially major — but unknown — clinical significance. The authors suggest that it could be related to “genetic factors, abnormal movement patterns and chronic inflammation.”
This observation has not been reproduced by other researchers, but a follow-up study in 2011 examined the flexibility of the same tissue, and found it was about 20% less in back pain patients: see Langevin for more commentary on the implications of both studies.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: Although the connective tissues forming the fascial planes of the back have been hypothesized to play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic low back pain (LBP), there have been no previous studies quantitatively evaluating connective tissue structure in this condition. The goal of this study was to perform an ultrasound-based comparison of perimuscular connective tissue structure in the lumbar region in a group of human subjects with chronic or recurrent LBP for more than 12 months, compared with a group of subjects without LBP.
METHODS: In each of 107 human subjects (60 with LBP and 47 without LBP), parasagittal ultrasound images were acquired bilaterally centered on a point 2 cm lateral to the midpoint of the L2-3 interspinous ligament. The outcome measures based on these images were subcutaneous and perimuscular connective tissue thickness and echogenicity measured by ultrasound.
RESULTS: There were no significant differences in age, sex, body mass index (BMI) or activity levels between LBP and No-LBP groups. Perimuscular thickness and echogenicity were not correlated with age but were positively correlated with BMI. The LBP group had approximately 25% greater perimuscular thickness and echogenicity compared with the No-LBP group (ANCOVA adjusted for BMI, p<0.01 and p<0.001 respectively).
CONCLUSION: This is the first report of abnormal connective tissue structure in the lumbar region in a group of subjects with chronic or recurrent LBP. This finding was not attributable to differences in age, sex, BMI or activity level between groups. Possible causes include genetic factors, abnormal movement patterns and chronic inflammation.
- “Reduced thoracolumbar fascia shear strain in human chronic low back pain,” Helene M Langevin, James R Fox, Cathryn Koptiuch, Gary J Badger, Ann C Greenan-Naumann, Nicole A Bouffard, Elisa E Konofagou, Wei-Ning Lee, John J Triano, and Sharon M Henry, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2011.
- “Ultrasound evaluation of the combined effects of thoracolumbar fascia injury and movement restriction in a porcine model,” James H Bishop, James R Fox, Rhonda Maple, Caitlin Loretan, Gary J Badger, Sharon M Henry, Margaret A Vizzard, and Helene M Langevin, PLoS ONE, 2016.
- “Effect of stretching on thoracolumbar fascia injury and movement restriction in a porcine model,” Helene M Langevin, James Bishop, Rhonda Maple, Gary J Badger, and James R Fox, Am J Phys Med Rehabil, 2017.
These three articles on PainScience.com cite Langevin 2009 as a source:
- PS Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome — A guide to the unfinished science of muscle pain, with reviews of every theory and self-treatment and therapy option
- PS Quite a Stretch — Stretching science has shown that this extremely popular form of exercise has almost no measurable benefits
- PS Does Fascia Matter? — A detailed critical analysis of the clinical relevance of fascia science and fascia properties
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:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.