Gut‑disc axis: A cause of intervertebral disc degeneration and low back pain?

European Spine Journal (2022) 31:917–925

Low back pain (LBP), a widely prevalent and costly disease around the world, is mainly caused by intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration (IDD). Although numerous factors may trigger this degenerative process, microbiome dysbiosis has recently been implicated as one of the likely causes. However, the exact relationship between the microbiome and IDD is not well understood. This review summarizes the potential mechanisms and discusses microbiome dysbiosis’s possible influence on IDD and LBP.

Methods Prospective literature review.

Results Alterations in microbiome composition and host responses to the microbiota causing pathological bone development and involution, led to the concept of gut-bone marrow axis and gut-bone axis. Moreover, the concept of the gut-disc axis was also proposed to explain the microbiome’s role in IDD and LBP. According to the existing evidence, the microbiome could be an important factor for inducing and aggravating IDD through changing or regulating the outside and inside microenvironment of the IVD. Three potential mechanisms by which the gut microbiota can induce IVD and cause LBP are: (1) translocation of the bacteria across the gut epithelial barrier and into the IVD, (2) regulation of the mucosal and systemic immune system, and (3) regulation of nutrient absorption and metabolites formation at the gut epithelium and its diffusion into the IVD. Furthermore, to investigate whether IVD is initiated by pathogenic bacteria and establish the correlation between the presence of certain microbial groups with the disease in question, microbiome diversity analysis based on16S rRNA data can be used to characterise stool/blood microbiota from IVD patients.

Conclusion Future studies on microbiome, fungi and viruses in IDD is necessary to revolutionize our thinking about their possible role in the development of IVD diseases. Furthermore, we believe that inflammation inhibition and interruption of amplification of cascade reaction in IVD by targeting the gut and IVD microbiome is worthwhile for the treatment of IDD and LBP.

Level of Evidence I Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with the consistently applied reference standard and blinding.

Endplate defects, not the severity of spinal stenosis, contribute to low back pain in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis

The Spine Journal 22 (2022) 370−378

It is controversial whether lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) itself contributes to low back pain (LBP). Lower truncal skeletal muscle mass, spinopelvic malalignment, intervertebral disc degeneration, and endplate abnormalities are thought to be related to LBP. However, whether these factors cause LBP in patients with LSS is unclear.PURPOSE: To identify factors associated with LBP in patients with LSS.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Cross-sectional design.

PATIENT SAMPLE: A total of 260 patients (119 men and 141 women, average age 72.8 years) with neurogenic claudication caused by LSS, as confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

OUTCOME MEASURES: Ratings of LBP, buttock and leg pain, and numbness on a numerical rating scale (NRS), 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) scores, muscle mass measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and radiographic measurements including slippage and lumbopelvic alignment. The severity of LSS, endplate defects, Modic endplate changes, intervertebral disc degeneration, and facet joint osteoarthritis were assessed on MRI.

METHODS: The presence of LBP was defined as an NRS score ≥3. The demographic data, patient-reported outcomes, and radiological and MRI findings were compared between patients with and without LBP. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify the factors that were independently associated with the presence of LBP.

RESULTS: There were significant differences between patients with and without LBP for buttock and leg pain and numbness on the NRS, general health on the SF-36, presence of endplate defects, presence of Modic changes, disc degeneration grading, and disc height grading (all p < .05). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed significant associations between LBP and diabetes (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.07−5.53), buttock and leg numbness on the NRS (OR 1.34; 95% CI 1.17−1.52), general health on the SF-36 (OR 0.97; 95% CI 0.95−0.99), and the presence of erosive endplate defects (OR 3.04; 95% CI 1.51−6.11) (all p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that LBP in patients with LSS should be carefully assessed not only for spinal stenosis but also clinical factors and endplate defects.

Low-back pain after lumbar discectomy for disc herniation: what can you tell your patient?

J Neurosurg Spine 35:715–721, 2021

Lumbar discectomy (LD) is frequently performed to alleviate radicular pain resulting from disc herniation. While this goal is achieved in most patients, improvement in low-back pain (LBP) has been reported inconsistently. The goal of this study was to characterize how LBP evolves following discectomy.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected patient data from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) registry. Patients who underwent surgery for lumbar disc herniation were eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome was a clinically significant reduction in the back pain numerical rating scale (BPNRS) assessed at 12 months. Binary logistic regression was used to model the relationship between the primary outcome and potential predictors.

RESULTS There were 557 patients included in the analysis. The chief complaint was radiculopathy in 85%; 55% of patients underwent a minimally invasive procedure. BPNRS improved at 3 months by 48% and this improvement was sustained at all follow-ups. LBP and leg pain improvement were correlated. Clinically significant improvement in BPNRS at 12 months was reported by 64% of patients. Six factors predicted a lack of LBP improvement: female sex, low education level, marriage, not working, low expectations with regard to LBP improvement, and a low BPNRS preoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS Clinically significant improvement in LBP is observed in the majority of patients after LD. These data should be used to better counsel patients and provide accurate expectations about back pain improvement.

Lumbar disk herniation during pregnancy: a review on general management and timing of surgery

Acta Neurochir (2018) 160:1361–1370

Objective Provide an overview of existing management strategies to suggest a guideline for surgical management of lumbar disk herniation in pregnant women based on time of presentation.

Methods We performed a narrative review on the topic using the PubMed database. A total of 63 relevant articles published after 1992 were identified, of which 17 fulfilled selection criteria.

Results A total of 22 published cases of spine surgery for disk herniation during pregnancy were found in 17 studies on the topic. Prone positioning was reported in the majority of cases during the first and early second trimester. C-sections were performed prior to spine surgery in the prone position for the majority of patients operated during the third trimester. The left lateral position with continued pregnancy was preferred during the latter half of the second trimester when delivery of the fetus cannot yet be performed but surgery is indicated.

Conclusion Spine surgery during pregnancy is a rare scenario but can be performed safely when needed if providers adhere to general guidelines. Surgical approaches and overall management are influenced by the stage of pregnancy.

Effects of methylene blue on postoperative low-back pain and functional outcomes after lumbar open discectomy: a triple-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial

Surgical technique and effectiveness of microendoscopic discectomy for large uncontained lumbar disc herniations

J Neurosurg Spine 24:7–15, 2016

Despite advances in surgical and anesthesiology techniques, many patients continue to experience postoperative pain after lumbar disc operations. This study aims to investigate the effects of methylene blue (MB) on preventing postoperative low-back pain (LBP) with or without radicular pain and improving the quality of life (QOL) in patients undergoing lumbar open discectomy.

Methods This is a prospective, randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, which was conducted at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences between July 2011 to January 2012. Of a total of 130 patients, 115 were eligible for participation; 56 received 1 ml of MB solution at a concentration of 0.5% (MB group) and 59 received an equivalent volume of normal saline (control group). Primary outcomes were the control of LBP with or without radicular pain, which was evaluated preoperatively and at 24 hours and 3 months after surgery with the use of a visual analog scale (VAS), and the improvement of QOL, which was assessed preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively by means of the Persian translation of the Oswestry Disability Index questionnaire.

Results The mean VAS scores for LBP were significantly lower in the MB group compared with the control group at 24 hours (1.25 ± 0.97 vs 2.80 ± 0.69, p < 0.001) and 3 months (1.02 ± 1.29 vs 2.07 ± 1.10, p = 0.019) after treatment. The mean radicular pain scores decreased significantly in the 2 groups at 24 hours after surgery, but the mean radicular pain score was significantly lower in the MB-treated patients than the control group. However, the difference between radicular pain scores in the MB group (1 ± 1.1) and the control group (1.2 ± 1) was not statistically significant (p = 0.64). The reduction in LBP was greater in the MB group than the control group (8.11 ± 1.74 vs 6.07 ± 1.52, p = 0.023, CI 95% –1.37 to –0.10). The functional QOL improved significantly 3 months after the operation in both groups (p < 0.001). Moderate disability occurred more frequently in the control group than in the MB group (14.5% vs 7.7%, p = 0.004). No toxicity, adverse effects, or complications were found in the group of patients treated with MB injection.

Conclusions A single dose of MB (1 ml 0.5%) for coating the dura and surrounding tissues (facet and muscle) shows promising results in terms of safety, reduction of postoperative pain, and functional outcome compared with placebo.

Spinal sagittal balance and microendoscopic laminotomy

Spinal sagittal balance and microendoscopic laminotomy

J Neurosurg Spine 23:49–54, 2015

More information about the association between preoperative anterior translation of the C-7 plumb line and clinical outcomes after decompression surgery in patients with lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSS) would help resolve problems for patients with sagittal imbalance. The authors evaluated whether preoperative sagittal alignment of the spine affects low-back pain and clinical outcomes after microendoscopic laminotomy.

Methods This study was a retrospective review of prospectively collected surgical data. The study comprised 88 patients with LSS (47 men and 41 women) who ranged in age from 39 to 86 years (mean age 68.7 years). All patients had undergone microendoscopic laminotomy at Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine from May 2008 through October 2012. The minimum duration of clinical and radiological follow-up was 6 months. All patients were evaluated by Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores for low-back pain, leg pain, and leg numbness before and after surgery. The distance between the C-7 plumb line and the posterior corner of the sacrum (sagittal vertical axis [SVA]) was measured on lateral standing radiographs of the entire spine obtained before surgery. Radiological factors and clinical outcomes were compared between patients with a preoperative SVA ≥ 50 mm (forwardbending trunk [F] group) and patients with a preoperative SVA < 50 mm (control [C] group). A total of 35 patients were allocated to the F group (19 male and 16 female) and 53 to the C group (28 male and 25 female).

Results The mean SVA was 81.0 mm for patients in the F group and 22.0 mm for those in the C group. At final followup evaluation, no significant differences between the groups were found for the JOA score improvement ratio (73.3% vs 77.1%) or the VAS score for leg numbness (23.6 vs 24.0 mm); the VAS score for low-back pain was significantly higher for those in the F group (21.1 mm) than for those in the C group (11.0 mm); and the VAS score for leg pain tended to be higher for those in the F group (18.9 ± 29.1 mm) than for those in the C group (9.4 ± 16.0 mm).

Conclusions Preoperative alignment of the spine in the sagittal plane did not affect JOA scores after microendoscopic laminotomy in patients with LSS. However, low-back pain was worse for patients with preoperative anterior translation of the C-7 plumb line than for those without.

Effect of Load Carriage on Lumbar Spine Kinematics

Lumbar Spine Kinematics

Spine 2013 ;38:E783–E791

Feasibility study on the acquisition of lumbar spine kinematic data from upright magnetic resonance images obtained under heavy load carrying conditions.

Objective. To characterize the effect of the load on spinal kinematics of active Marines under typical load carrying conditions from a macroscopic and lumbar-level approach in active-duty US Marines.

Summary of Background Data. Military personnel carry heavy loads of up to 68 kg depending on duty position and nature of the mission or training; these loads are in excess of the recommended assault loads. Performance and injury associated with load carriage have been studied; however, knowledge of lumbar spine kinematic changes is still not incorporated into training. These data would provide guidance for setting load and duration limits and a tool to investigate the potential contribution of heavy load carrying on lumbar spine pathologies.

Methods. Sagittal T2 magnetic resonance images of the lumbar spine were acquired on a 0.6-T upright magnetic resonance imaging scanner for 10 active-duty Marines. Each Marine was scanned without load (UN1), immediately after donning load (LO2), after 45 minutes of standing (LO3) and walking (LO4) with load, and after 45 minutes of side-lying recovery (UN5). Custom-made software was used to measure whole spine angles, intervertebral angles, and regional disc heights (L1–S1). Repeated measurements analysis of variance and post hoc Sidak tests were used to identify significant differences between tasks ( α = 0.05).

Results. The position of the spine was significantly ( P < 0.0001) more horizontal relative to the external reference frame and lordosis was reduced during all tasks with load. Superior levels became more lordotic, whereas inferior levels became more kyphotic. Heavy load induced lumbar spine flexion and only anterior disc and posterior intervertebral disc height changes were observed. All kinematic variables returned to baseline levels after 45 minutes of side-lying recovery.

Conclusion. Superior and inferior lumbar levels showed different kinematic behaviors under heavy load carrying conditions. These fi ndings suggest a postural, lumbar fl exion strategy aimed at centralizing a heavy posterior load over the base of support.

Meta-analysis of instrumented posterior interbody fusion versus instrumented posterolateral fusion in the lumbar spine

J Neurosurg Spine 15:295–310, 2011.DOI: 10.3171/2011.4.SPINE10330

The authors compared the effectiveness of instrumented posterior lumbar interbody fusion (iPLIF) and instrumented posterolateral fusion (iPLF) for the treatment of low-back pain (LBP) due to degenerative lumbar disease.

Methods. Relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and comparative observational studies through December 2009 were identified using a retrieval strategy of sensitive and specific searches. The study design, participant characteristics, interventions, follow-up rate and period, and outcomes were abstracted after the assessment of methodological quality of the trials. Analyses were performed following the method guidelines of the Cochrane Back Review Group.
Results. Nine studies were identified—3 RCTs and 6 comparative observational studies. No significant difference was found between the 2 fusion procedures in the global assessment of clinical outcome (OR 1.51, 95% CI 0.71–3.22, p = 0.29) and complication rate (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.16–1.86, p = 0.34). Both techniques were effective in reducing pain and improving functional disability, as well as restoring intervertebral disc height. Instrumented PLIF was more effective in achieving solid fusion (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.35–5.00, p = 0.004), a lower reoperation rate (OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.03–1.29, p = 0.09), and better restoration of segmental angle and lumbar lordotic angle than iPLF. There were no significant differences between the fusion methods regarding blood loss (weighted mean difference –179.63, 95% CI –516.42 to 157.15, p = 0.30), and operating time (weighted mean difference 8.03, 95% CI –45.46 to 61.53, p = 0.77).

Conclusions. The authors’ analysis provided moderate-quality evidence that iPLIF has the advantages of higher fusion rate and better restoration of spinal alignment over iPLF. No significant differences were identified between iPLIF and iPLF concerning clinical outcome, complication rate, operating time, and blood loss.

Nonfusion stabilization of the degenerative lumbar spine

J Neurosurg Spine 15:151–158, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.3.SPINE0969

The goal of this study was to assess whether a stable but nonrigid nonfusion implant can stabilize the spine in degenerative diseases and also prevent instability following decompression. Instrumented spondylodesis is a recognized surgical treatment in degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. However, pain can develop at the bone graft donor site and the operative trauma can be very stressful in elderly patients, and it is suspected that there may be increased degenerative changes in the adjacent segments. In 2002, a nonrigid but rotationally stable pedicle screw and rod system was introduced, which could be used without additional fusion (referred to hereafter as the Cosmic system).

Methods. A total of 139 patients with degenerative disease of the lumbar spine underwent spinal stabilization with the Cosmic system without additional spondylodesis. Seventy patients had an additional decompression. The minimum follow-up was 2 years. The perioperative course, the clinical results, and the erect anteroposterior and lateral radiographs were recorded and compared with the preoperative data. The data were obtained from 6 different spine centers in Europe and documented on an Internet platform.

Results. The Oswestry Disability Index score improved from 48.9% to 22.5%, and the visual analog scale score decreased from 7.3 to 2.5. Lumbar lordosis did not change, nor did the adjacent disc height. Eleven patients underwent revision, 4 of them for implant failure. Of the 139 patients, 110 assessed the result as excellent, very good, or good; 24 as fair; and 5 as poor. A total of 122 patients would undergo surgery again. There were no significant differences between patients with or without an additional decompression.

Conclusions. The Cosmic system is a stable but nonrigid posterior nonfusion system. Implant complications are low and the clinical outcome is good. Longer follow-up is necessary to confirm the 2-year results.

Does minimally invasive lumbar disc surgery result in less muscle injury than conventional surgery? A randomized controlled trial

Eur Spine J (2011) 20:51–57. DOI 10.1007/s00586-010-1482-y

The concept of minimally invasive lumbar disc surgery comprises reduced muscle injury. The aim of this study was to evaluate creatine phosphokinase (CPK) in serum and the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the multifidus muscle on magnetic resonance imaging as indicators of muscle injury.

We present the results of a double-blind randomized trial on patients with lumbar disc herniation, in which tubular discectomy and conventional microdiscectomy were compared. In 216 patients, CPK was measured before surgery and at day 1 after surgery. In 140 patients, the CSA of the multifidus muscle was measured at the affected disc level before surgery and at 1 year after surgery. The ratios (i.e. post surgery/pre surgery) of CPK and CSA were used as outcome measures. The multifidus atrophy was classified into three grades ranging from 0 (normal) to 3 (severe atrophy), and the difference between post and pre surgery was used as an outcome. Patients’ low-back pain scores on the visual analogue scale (VAS) were documented before surgery and at various moments during follow-up.

Tubular discectomy compared with conventional microdiscectomy resulted in a nonsignificant difference in CPK ratio, although the CSA ratio was significantly lower in tubular discectomy. At 1 year, there was no difference in atrophy grade between both groups nor in the percentage of patients showing an increased atrophy grade (14% tubular vs. 18% conventional). The postoperative low-back pain scores on the VAS improved in both groups, although the 1-year between-group mean difference of improvement was 3.5 mm (95% CI; 1.4–5.7 mm) in favour of conventional microdiscectomy.

In conclusion, tubular discectomy compared with conventional microdiscectomy did not result in reduced muscle injury. Postoperative evaluation of CPK and the multifidus muscle showed similar results in both groups, although patients who underwent tubular discectomy reported more lowback pain during the first year after surgery.

Dynamic stabilization adjacent to single-level fusion: Part II. No clinical benefit for asymptomatic, initially degenerated adjacent segments after 6 years follow-up

Eur Spine J (2010) 19:2181–2189 DOI 10.1007/s00586-010-1517-4

Progression of degeneration is often described in patients with initially degenerated segment adjacent to fusion (iASD) at the time of surgery. The aim of the present study was to compare dynamic fixation of a clinically asymptomatic iASD, with circumferential lumbar fusion alone.

60 patients with symptomatic degeneration of L5/S1 or L4/L5 (Modic C 2) and asymptomatic iASD (Modic = 1, confirmed by discography) were divided into two groups. 30 patients were treated with circumferential single-level fusion (SLF). In dynamic fixation transition (DFT) patients, additional posterior dynamic fixation of iASD was performed. Preoperatively, at 12 months, and at a mean follow-up of 76.4 (60–91) months, radiological (MRI, X-ray) and clinical (ODI, VAS, satisfaction) evaluations assessed fusion, progression of adjacent segment degeneration (PASD), radiologically adverse events, functional outcome, and pain.

At final follow-up, two nonfusions were observed in both groups. 6 SLF patients and 1 DFT patient presented a PASD. In two DFT patients, a PASD occurred in the segment superior to the dynamic fixation, and in one DFT patient, a fusion of the dynamically fixated segment was observed. 4 DFT patients presented radiological implant failure. While no differences in clinical scores were observed between groups, improvement from pre-operative conditions was significant (all p<0.001). Clinical scores were equal in patients with PASD and/or radiologically adverse events. We do not recommend dynamically fixating the adjacent segment in patients with clinically asymptomatic iASD. The lower number of PASD with dynamic fixation was accompanied by a high number of implant failures and a shift of PASD to the superior segment.

What happens to Modic changes following lumbar discectomy?

J Neurosurg Spine 13:562–567, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2010.5.SPINE09818

The natural history of Modic changes (MCs) in the lumbar spine is often marked by conversion from one type to another, but their course following lumbar discectomy remains unknown. The authors sought to study the impact of surgery on the natural history of these lesions.

Methods. Forty-one patients treated with lumbar microdiscectomy between 2004 and 2005 were enrolled in this study and underwent clinical evaluation and repeat MR imaging after a median follow-up of 41 months (range 32–59 months). Preoperative and follow-up MR images were reviewed and the type, location, and extent of MCs at the operated level were recorded and compared.

Results. The study population consisted of 27 men and 14 women with a mean age of 54 years (range 24–78 years). During the follow-up period, the prevalence of MCs increased from 46.3% to 78%, and 26 patients (63.4%) had Type 2 lesions at the operated level. Of the 22 patients without MCs, 4 (18.2%) converted to Type 1 and 9 (40.9%) to Type 2. Of the 5 Type 1 lesions, 3 (60%) converted to Type 2, and 2 (40%) remained Type 1 but increased in size. In contrast, none of the 14 Type 2 changes converted to another type, although 10 (71.4%) increased in extent. There were no reverse conversions to Type 0.

Conclusions. Following lumbar discectomy, most patients develop Type 2 changes at the operated level, possibly as a result of accelerated degeneration in the operated disc. Neither the preoperative presence of MCs nor their postoperative course appears to affect the clinical outcome.

Does minimally invasive lumbar disc surgery result in less muscle injury than conventional surgery? A randomized controlled trial

Eur Spine J. DOI 10.1007/s00586-010-1482-y

The concept of minimally invasive lumbar disc surgery comprises reduced muscle injury. The aim of this study was to evaluate creatine phosphokinase (CPK) in serum and the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the multifidus muscle on magnetic resonance imaging as indicators of muscle injury.

We present the results of a double-blind randomized trial on patients with lumbar disc herniation, in which tubular discectomy and conventional microdiscectomy were compared. In 216 patients, CPK was measured before surgery and at day 1 after surgery. In 140 patients, the CSA of the multifidus muscle was measured at the affected disc level before surgery and at 1 year after surgery. The ratios (i.e. post surgery/pre surgery) of CPK and CSA were used as outcome measures. The multifidus atrophy was classified into three grades ranging from 0 (normal) to 3 (severe atrophy), and the difference between post and pre surgery was used as an outcome. Patients’ low-back pain scores on the visual analogue scale (VAS) were documented before surgery and at various moments during follow-up.

Tubular discectomy compared with conventional microdiscectomy resulted in a nonsignificant difference in CPK ratio, although the CSA ratio was significantly lower in tubular discectomy. At 1 year, there was no difference in atrophy grade between both groups nor in the percentage of patients showing an increased atrophy grade (14% tubular vs. 18% conventional). The postoperative low-back pain scores on the VAS improved in both groups, although the 1-year between-group mean difference of improvement was 3.5 mm (95% CI; 1.4–5.7 mm) in favour of conventional microdiscectomy.

In conclusion, tubular discectomy compared with conventional microdiscectomy did not result in reduced muscle injury. Postoperative evaluation of CPK and the multifidus muscle showed similar results in both groups, although patients who underwent tubular discectomy reported more lowback pain during the first year after surgery.

MSU Classification for herniated lumbar discs on MRI: toward developing objective criteria for surgical selection

Eur Spine J (2010) 19:1087–1093. DOI 10.1007/s00586-009-1274-4

Currently, there are over 300,000 lumbar discectomies performed in the US annually without an objective standard for patient selection.

A prospective clinical outcome study of 200 cases with 5-year follow-up was used to develop and validate an MRI-based classification scheme to eliminate as much ambiguity as possible. 100 consecutive lumbar microdiscectomies were performed between 1992 and 1995 based on the criteria for ‘‘substantial’’ herniation on MRI. This series was used to develop the MSU Classification as an objective measure of lumbar disc herniation on MRI to define ‘‘substantial’’. It simply classifies herniation size as 1-2-3 and location as AB- C, with inter-examiner reliability of 98%. A second prospective series of 100 discectomies was performed between 2000 and 2002, based on the new criteria, to validate this classification scheme. All patients with size-1 lesions were electively excluded from surgical consideration in our study.

The Oswestry Disability Index from both series was better than most published outcome norms for lumbar microdiscectomy. The two series reported 96 and 90% good to excellent outcomes, respectively, at 1 year, and 84 and 80% at 5 years. The most frequent types of herniation selected for surgery in each series were types 2-B and 2-AB, suggesting the combined importance of both size and location.

The MSU Classification is a simple and reliable method to objectively measure herniated lumbar disc. When used in correlation with appropriate clinical findings, the MSU Classification can provide objective criteria for surgery that may lead to a higher percentage of good to excellent outcomes.

No effect of traction in patients with low back pain: a single centre, single blind, randomized controlled trial of Intervertebral Differential Dynamics Therapy

Eur Spine J (2009) 18:1843–1850 DOI 10.1007/s00586-009-1044-3

Low back pain (LBP) poses a significant problem to society. Although initial conservative therapy may be beneficial, persisting chronic LBP still frequently leads to expensive invasive intervention. A novel non- invasive therapy that focuses on discogenic LBP is Intervertebral Differential Dynamics Therapy (IDD Therapy, North American Medical Corp. Reg U.S.). IDD Therapy consists of intermittent traction sessions in the Accu-SPINA device (Steadfast Corporation Ltd, Essex, UK), an FDA approved, class II medical device. The intervertebral disc and facet joints are unloaded through axial distraction, positioning and relaxation cycles. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of IDD Therapy when added to a standard graded activity program for chronic LBP patients. In a single blind, single centre, randomized controlled trial; 60 consecutive patients were assigned to either the SHAM or the IDD Therapy. All subjects received the standard conservative therapeutic care (graded activity) and 20 sessions in the Accu-SPINA device. The traction weight in the IDD Therapy was systematically increased until 50% of a person’s body weight plus 4.45 kg (10 lb) was reached. The SHAM group received a non-therapeutic traction weight of 4.45 kg in all sessions. The main outcome was assessed using a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS) for LBP. Secondary outcomes were VAS scores for leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Short-Form 36 (SF-36). All parameters were measured before and 2, 6 and 14 weeks after start of the treatment. Fear of (re)injury due to movement or activities (Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia), coping strategies (Utrecht Coping List) and use of pain medication were recorded before and at 14 weeks. A repeated measures analysis was performed. The two groups were comparable at baseline in terms of demographic, clinical and psychological characteristics, indicating that the random allocation had succeeded. VAS low back pain improved significantly from 61 (±25) to 32 (±27) with the IDD protocol and 53 (±26) to 36 (±27) in the SHAM protocol. Moreover, leg pain, ODI and SF-36 scores improved significantly but in both groups. The use of pain medication decreased significantly, whereas scores for kinesiophobia and coping remained at the same non-pathological level. None of the parameters showed a difference between both protocols. Both treatment regimes had a significant beneficial effect on LBP, leg pain, functional status and quality of life after 14 weeks. The added axial, intermittent, mechanical traction of IDD Therapy to a standard graded activity program has been shown not to be effective.