New MR techniques show that facet joint effusion (the collection of fluid in the spinal joints) and interspinal ligament edema (swelling of the interspinal ligaments) are major sources of lower back pain, according to a study performed at Baskent University Hospital in Ankara, Turkey and Alanya Research Center in Antalya, Turkey.
During the study 372 patients with lower back pain and 249 healthy patients underwent MRI accompanied by STIR (short inversion time inversion recovery) sequences. “The most common imaging findings in patients with lower back pain were soft tissue changes, mainly facet joint effusion, 85.5%, and interspinal ligament swelling, 80.6%,” according to Nefise Cagla Tarhan, MD, lead author of the study.
“Soft tissue changes are important in the understanding of lower back pain and prevention and treatment options should focus more on these changes. A lot of patients (mostly younger) come to me with complaints of bad, lower back pain; it is a very common community problem,” said Dr. Tarhan.
“With this new MR technique, prevention and treatment options for lower back pain can focus more on soft tissue degenerative changes that cause facet joint effusion and interspinal ligament swelling,” said Dr. Tarhan.
- Lakadamyali, Hatice, Tarhan, Nefise Cagla, Ergun, Tarkan, Cakir, Banu, Agildere, Ahmet Muhtesem. STIR Sequence for Depiction of Degenerative Changes in Posterior Stabilizing Elements in Patients with Lower Back Pain. American Journal of Roentgenology, 2008; 191 (4): 973 DOI: 10.2214/AJR.07.2829
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