Spinal degeneration is associated with lumbar multifidus morphology in secondary care patients with low back or leg pain


Associations between multifidus muscle morphology and degenerative pathologies have been implied in patients with non-specific low back pain, but it is unknown how these are influenced by pathology severity, number, or distribution. MRI measures of pure multifidus muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) were acquired from 522 patients presenting with low back and/or leg symptoms in an outpatient clinic. We explored cross-sectional associations between the presence, distribution, and/or severity of lumbar degenerative pathologies (individually and in aggregate) and muscle outcomes in multivariable analyses (beta coefficients [95% CI]). We identified associations between lower pure multifidus muscle CSA and disc degeneration (at two or more levels): − 4.51 [− 6.72; − 2.3], Modic 2 changes: − 4.06 [− 6.09; − 2.04], endplate defects: − 2.74 [− 4.58; − 0.91], facet arthrosis: − 4.02 [− 6.26; − 1.78], disc herniations: − 3.66 [− 5.8; − 1.52], and when > 5 pathologies were present: − 6.77 [− 9.76; − 3.77], with the last supporting a potential dose–response relationship between number of spinal pathologies and multifidus morphology. Our findings could hypothetically indicate that these spinal and muscle findings: (1) are part of the same degenerative process, (2) result from prior injury or other common antecedent events, or (3) have a directional relationship. Future longitudinal studies are needed to further examine the complex nature of these relationships.


Epidemiology, Magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, Musculoskeletal system, Spinal degeneration, Non-specific low back pain

Link to Publisher Version (URL)


This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library