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Br J Rheumatol. 1992 Jun;31(6):389-94.

Radiographic demonstration of paraspinal muscle wasting in patients with chronic low back pain.

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Rheumatic Diseases Centre, University of Manchester, Salford.


This study investigated whether paraspinal muscle wasting occurs in association with chronic low back pain (LBP). Cross-sectional areas (CSA) of spinal and paraspinal structures were measured radiographically, at the level of L4, in 43 patients with recent and 44 with chronic LBP. Crude anthropometry demonstrated no differences between the groups with regard to L4 and paraspinal and psoas muscle CSAs, but inter-individual differences were large. Since body weight correlated significantly with L4 CSA this dimension was used as an 'internal standard' and further inter-individual comparisons were made using paraspinal: L4 and psoas: L4 (i.e. muscle to bone) CSA ratios. Muscle assessments made in this 'relative' fashion revealed significant reductions in paraspinal and psoas dimensions in patients with chronic compared to recent onset LBP. These changes could cause paraspinal and psoas muscle weakness and thereby predispose to spinal instability and progressive dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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