No effect of 6-month intake of glucosamine sulfate on Modic changes or high intensity zones in the lumbar spine: sub-group analysis of a randomized controlled trial
TypeJournal article; Peer reviewed
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Background: The underlying pathology and natural course of Modic changes (MC) in the vertebral body marrow and high intensity zones (HIZs) in the annulus fibrosus is not completely clarified. These findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have initiated different treatments with little or unclear effect. In a randomized trial (n = 250), glucosamine sulfate (GS) had no effect on low back pain related disability. GS could still have an effect on MC and HIZ. In this sub-study, 45 patients from the trial who had MC and/or HIZ at pre-treatment underwent follow-up MRI. The aim was to examine the course of MC and HIZ and to compare this course between groups treated with 6-month intake of oral GS versus placebo.
Results: Of 141 pre-treatment MC in 42 (of 45) patients, 29 (20.6%) MC in 18 patients had altered type and 14 MC in 9 patients had altered size (decreased for 1 MC) 6-18 months later: odds ratio (OR) for type vs. size alterations 4.0; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-17.7. No MC resolved. HIZ vanished from 3 of 23 discs in 3 of 21 patients with pre-treatment HIZ. Ten new MC (all type I or I/II) occurred in 8 patients and 2 new HIZs in 2 patients. The GS group (n = 19) and placebo group (n = 26) did not differ in proportions of MC with decreased (OR 1.6; 95% CI 0.4-6.1) or increased type I dominance at follow-up (OR placebo:GS 2.4; 95% CI 0.6-9.7), or with increased size (OR 1.0; 95% CI 0.2-4.7). HIZ vanished from 1 of 8 discs in 1 of 8 patients in the GS group vs. 2 of 15 discs in 2 of 13 patients in the placebo group (OR 0.8; 95% CI 0.02-12.2).
Conclusions: In this sub-group analysis of a placebo-controlled trial, the effect of GS on MC and HIZs was no different from the effect of the placebo intervention. MC and HIZs remained mostly unchanged during the 6-18 months study period. Some short term changes did occur and MC more often altered type than size.
CitationJournal of Negative Results in BioMedicine
CitationJournal of Negative Results in BioMedicine 11(1):13
SubjectGlucosamine sulfateHigh intensity zoneLow back painLumbar spineMagnetic resonance imagingModic changesRandomized trialTreatment effect
Philip Wilkens et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.