Low back pain and modic markers of cytokines

modic, basivertebral, low back pain

Low back pain is very common and the markers to indicate why some people hurt and others do not, has been of a recent investigation. In The Spine Journal 1, just this month, researchers looked closer at modic changes and the chemicals that generate as a result. Modic changes were first identified by Michael Modic 2 in 1988 as unique findings on MR.

There is no doubt that disk degeneration appears to be related to low back pain, even if many asymptomatic people do have degenerative findings on MRI. 3 What seems to be the difference is the degree of inflammation in those that suffer with low back pain and those that don’t suffer.

Cytokines are inflammation markers, and in this study, these researchers found that Type 2 modic changes where associated with these markers and concluded:

“These results further strengthen the link between Modic Changes and low back pain”


The location of inflammation is something that is important to share with patients. Whether it is inflammation from the annulus within the disc itself, or whether MRI findings show intravertebral inflammation due to irritation to the basivertebral nerve, Dynamic Disc Designs develops models to help with spine education.


In a recent poll,

Do you know what patients really care about when choosing a spine surgeon?

Patients ranked Communicates well / Explains medical condition, symptoms, surgical, and non-surgical treatment options @ 17.7%.

3D discogenic pain model

modic, basivertebral

Modic and basivertebral nerve



  1.  Are modic changes associated with intervertebral disc cytokine profiles? Schroeder, Gregory D. et al. The Spine Journal IN PRINT
  2. Modic MT, Steinberg PM, Ross JS, Masaryk TJ, Carter JR. Degenerative disk disease: assessment of changes in vertebral body marrow with MR imaging. Radiology. 1988;166(1 Pt 1):193-9
  3.  Boden SD, Davis DO, Dina TS, Patronas NJ, Wiesel SW. Abnormal magnetic- resonance scans of the lumbar spine in asymptomatic subjects. A prospective investigation. The Journal of bone and joint surgery American volume. 26 1990;72(3):403-8
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