This thesis comprises three phases with a combined aim which was to investigate the effect of position on the lumbar intervertebral disc (IVD). The effect of position on the lumbar IVD in asymptomatic subjects and subjects with discogenic low back pain (DLBP) was explored using positional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (pMRI). Convenience samples of 11 asymptomatic and 34 DLBP subjects were recruited to have sagittal and axial pMRI scans performed in sitting (Neutral, Flexed and Extended), standing and lying (Supine and Prone extension) positions. The sagittal plane migration of the nucleus pulposus (NP) of each lumbar IVD in each position was measured from the sagittal and axial pMRI scans. Within and between group inferential analysis was performed using nonparametric tests. Both the asymptomatic and DLBP subjects demonstrated that position had statistically significant effects on the sagittal plane NP migration. Both groups demonstrated significantly greater posterior sagittal plane NP migration in Neutral and Flexed sitting positions compared to the other positions. However, between group comparisons identified that the asymptomatic subjects also demonstrated significantly greater posterior sagittal plane NP migration than the DLBP subjects. This pattern was more common in the upper lumbar IVDs (L1/2 and L2/3) between positions and less common in the lower IVDs (L4/5 and L5/S1) between positions. New knowledge regarding the behaviour of the lumbar IVD emerged from this research. The differences detected between the asymptomatic and DLBP subjects suggest that some current theories regarding DLBP may be incorrect. The results also support imaging of DLBP subjects in sitting positions as opposed to current supine positions. Although the limitations of the study reduce generalisation of the results, the implications for clinical practice, imaging and suggestions for further research from this work are important to improve understanding and conservative management of DLBP.
ALEXANDER, L.A.A. 2014. The effect of position on the lumbar intervertebral disc. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.