A new biomechanical study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of South Denmark reveals that structural changes in the spine can alter its response to vibration. The finding suggests that vibration technology may offer an alternative to magnetic resonance imaging as a means to study the spine and diagnose back pain. The study tested the vibration responses in the spines of identical twins. Denmark has the world’s largest and most comprehensive registry of twins, offering a unique resource for testing. In cases of similar spines, the team found that response to vibration was also similar. But if one twin’s spine differed from the other, due to accident or injury, the vibration responses were significantly different. The findings appear online in the journal Scientific Reports.
Greg Kawchuk, PhD, professor of physical therapy at University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, said that the findings demonstrate the viability of vibration as a diagnostic alternative to MRI. Study colleague Jan Hartvigsen, PhD, professor of clinical biomechanics and musculoskeletal research, University of South Denmark added, "One of the biggest problems in back pain today is over utilization of MRI scans in patients that do not need them. By using a simple, safe and inexpensive technology like this, we can potentially decrease the use of these scans significantly." The study further notes that vibration diagnostics provide a superior assessment of the dynamics of the spine, vs a static picture offered by MRI.
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The full journal article may be read here.