The Association of MRI Findings and Long-Term Disability in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain

Peter Muhareb Udby*, Søren Ohrt-Nissen, Tom Bendix, Stig Brorson, Leah Y. Carreon, Mikkel Østerheden Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

15 Downloads (Pure)


Study Design: Longitudinal cohort study with 13-year follow-up. Objective: To assess whether long-term disability is associated with baseline degenerative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with low back pain (LBP). Methods: In 2004-2005, patients aged 18 to 60 years with chronic LBP were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial and lumbar MRI was performed. Patients completed the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the LBP Rating Scale, at baseline and 13 years after the MRI. Multivariate regression analysis was performed with 13-year RMDQ as the dependent variable and baseline disc degeneration (DD, Pfirrmann grade), Modic changes (MC), facet joint degeneration (FJD, Fujiwara grade) smoking status, body mass index, and self-reported weekly physical activity at leisure as independent variables. Results: Of 204 patients with baseline MRI, 170 (83%) were available for follow-up. Of these, 88 had Pfirrmann grade >III (52%), 67 had MC (39%) and 139 had Fujiwara grade >2 (82%) on at least 1 lumbar level. Only MC (β = −0.15, P =.031) and weekly physical activity at leisure (β = −0.51, P <.001) were significantly, negatively, associated with 13-year RMDQ-score (R2 = 0.31). Conclusion: DD and FJD were not associated with long-term disability. Baseline MC and weekly physical activity at leisure were statistically significantly associated with less long-term disability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)633-639
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • degeneration
  • disability
  • long-term follow-up
  • low back pain (LBP)
  • Modic changes
  • MRI


Dive into the research topics of 'The Association of MRI Findings and Long-Term Disability in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this