Magnetic resonance image isn't everything. A new University of Alberta study shows that vibrating the spine may reveal more when it comes to treating back pain. Teaming with the University of South Denmark to study the lumbar spine of twins, Greg Kawchuk and his team demonstrate that structural changes within the spine alter its vibration response significantly.

"Instead of using large seismic vibrations to find oil, we used gentle vibrations to find out where problems exist in the back," explains Kawchuk, professor of physical therapy at the U of A's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. "By studying and testing vibration responses in identical twins, we were able to demonstrate that structural changes within the spine alter its vibration response."

The study also has implications in the long term and could provide new diagnoses not seen by current imaging tests. Furthermore, findings show the viability of vibration as a diagnostic tool that could help improve MRI utilization in the short term, Kawchuk says.

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