This study aimed to evaluate facet joint parameters and osteoarthritis grades, and segmental angular and translational motions among different grades of L5/S1 intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration.
This retrospective study analysed kinematic magnetic resonance imaging (kMRI) images of the lumbar spine of 214 patients with low back pain. Degenerations of the L5/S1 IVDs and facet joints osteoarthritis were assessed using the Pfirrmann and Pathria grading scales, respectively. Facet joint parameters included facet joint angle and facet joint space width. Angular and translation segmental motions were measured using MRI Analyzer software.
The mean age of the studied patients was 44.1 ± 13.9 years. Patients with L5/S1 disc degeneration were associated with higher odds of facet joint osteoarthritis (odds ratio = 2.28, 95% confidence interval = 1.23-4.23, P = 0.008). There was a positive correlation between L5/S1 disc degeneration grade and the facet joint grade (r = 0.365, P > 0.001). Grade IV facet joint osteoarthritis did not appear in grades I or II disc degeneration (P > 0.001). The average facet joint width decreased significantly with increasing Pfirrmann grading (P = 0.017). The difference in facet joint angle between groups was not statistically significant (P = 0.532). The differences in the angular and translational motions were not statistically significant (P = 0.530, and 0.510, respectively).
A positive correlation exists between L5/S1 disc degeneration and facet joint osteoarthritis grades. The facet joint space width decreases significantly with increasing grade of disc degeneration.