Observations on the pathomorphology of the thoracolumbar fascia in chronic mechanical back pain. A microscopic study

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1995 May 15;20(10):1161-4. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199505150-00010.


Study design: Human tissue specimens were examined for the presence of neural end-organs under light and electron microscopy.

Objectives: To define the innervation of the thoracolumbar fascia in problem back pain patients who have articular abnormality defined through pain-provocation discography or facet blocks.

Summary of background data: Previous investigators have defined the presence of innervation in control (no back pain) tissue specimens.

Methods: Tissue specimens were harvested during surgery from 24 back pain patients who had not undergone previous lumbar surgery. Specimens were fixed immediately in the operating room and later processed and studied under light and electron microscopy.

Results: Structural and ultrastructural studies failed to identify specific neural end-organs in any of the specimens. Serendipidously, microscopic changes suggestive of ischemia or inflammation in this tissue were found.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the thoracolumbar fascia may be deficiently innervated in problem back pain patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / pathology*
  • Basement Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Calcinosis
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Fascia / blood supply
  • Fascia / innervation*
  • Fascia / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Male
  • Nerve Endings / ultrastructure
  • Thoracic Vertebrae*


  • Collagen