Short-term increase in discs' apparent diffusion is associated with pain and mobility improvements after spinal mobilization for low back pain

Sci Rep. 2018 May 29;8(1):8281. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26697-7.


Pain perception, trunk mobility and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) within all lumbar intervertebral discs (IVDs) were collected before and shortly after posterior-to-anterior (PA) mobilizations in 16 adults with acute low back pain. Using a pragmatic approach, a trained orthopaedic manual physical therapist applied PA mobilizations to the participants' spine, in accordance with his examination findings. ADC all was computed from diffusion maps as the mean of anterior (ADC ant ), middle (ADC mid ), and posterior (ADC post ) portions of the IVD. After mobilization, pain ratings and trunk mobility were significantly improved and a significant increase in ADC all values was observed. The greatest ADC all changes were observed at the L3-L4 and L4-L5 levels and were mainly explained by changes in ADC ant and ADC post , respectively. No significant changes in ADC were observed at L5-S1 level. The reduction in pain and largest changes in ADC observed at the periphery of the hyperintense IVD region suggest that increased peripheral random motion of water molecules is implicated in the IVD nociceptive response modulation. Additionally, ADC changes were observed at remote IVD anatomical levels that did not coincide with the PA spinal mobilization application level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diffusion
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / metabolism*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Lumbosacral Region / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology