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Can Specific Loading through Exercise Impart Healing or Regeneration of the Intervertebral Discs?

Smith, D and Steele, J and Bruce-Low, S and Osborne, N and Thorkeldsen, A (2015) Can Specific Loading through Exercise Impart Healing or Regeneration of the Intervertebral Discs? The Spine Journal, 15.

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Abstract

Low back pain (LBP) is highly prevalent and presents an enormous cost both through direct health care and indirectly through significant work and production loss. Low back pain is acknowledged widely to be a multifactorial pathology with a variety of symptoms, dysfunctions, and a number of possible sources of pain. One source that has been suspected and evidenced for some time is the intervertebral disc. Some degree of disc degeneration is a physiologic process associated with aging, however, more severe degeneration and/or structural abnormality may be indicative of a pathologic process or injury and is more commonly present in those suffering from LBP. Much like other tissues (ie, muscle, bone, etc.), it has been suspected that there exists an optimal loading strategy to promote the health of the disc. Exercise is often prescribed for LBP and effectively reduces pain and disability. However, whether specific loading through exercise might plausibly heal or regenerate the intervertebral discs is unknown.

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