Magnetic resonance study of disc degeneration in young low-back pain patients

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1989 Sep;14(9):982-5. doi: 10.1097/00007632-198909000-00012.


The correlation of roentgenographic findings, clinical history, and incipient disc degeneration (DD), diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging, was analyzed in young patients with low-back pain (LBP). One or more lumbar discs were abnormal in 57% of the 20-year-old LBP patients (n = 75) and in 35% of the asymptomatic controls (n = 34) in MRI. Narrowed disc spaces and alterations attributed to lumbar Scheuermann's disease, shown on the radiographs, were always associated with DD in MRI. Such a strong relationship was not observed with transitional vertebrae, spondylolisthesis, spina bifida, or postural abnormalities. However, an increased weight, a positive straight leg raising test, and a reduced lumbar mobility was consistent with an increase in frequency of DD. Magnetic resonance imaging is a safe and sensitive method for studying the presence and etiologic factors of DD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Scheuermann Disease / diagnosis