European Spine Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1296–1308 | Cite as

Nuclear magnetic resonance therapy in lumbar disc herniation with lumbar radicular syndrome: effects of the intervention on pain intensity, health-related quality of life, disease-related disability, consumption of pain medication, duration of sick leave and MRI analysis

  • H. SalfingerEmail author
  • G. Salomonowitz
  • K. M. Friedrich
  • J. Hahne
  • J. Holzapfel
  • M. Friedrich
Original Article



The objective was to assess the effects of therapeutic nuclear magnetic resonance (tNMR) as a conservative treatment for lumbar radicular syndrome (LRS) in patients with lumbar disc herniation.


The prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 94 patients, aged 20–60 years (44.79 ± 8.83), with LRS caused by lumbar disc herniation confirmed by MRI scans and with clinical signs of a radicular lesion without indication for surgical intervention. Treatment group (TG) and control group (CG) received standard non-surgical therapy. Additionally, the TG had seven sessions with the tNMR device with a magnetic flux density of 2.3 mT and a frequency of 85 kHz; the CG received 7 sham treatments. Outcome parameters were the treatment effect on pain intensity (Visual Analogue Scale—VAS), health-related quality of life (36-item Short Form Health Survey—SF-36), disease-related disability (Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire—RMDQ), pain medication intake, duration of sick leave and morphological changes assessed by MRI scan analysis.


VAS scores improved significantly in both groups (p < 0.000). Only in week 4, improvement in the TG significantly surpassed that of the CG (morning pain p = 0.011, evening pain = 0.001). In both groups, SF-36 scores reflected a significant amendment in the physical component score (p < 0.000) and a significant deterioration in the mental component score (p < 0.000). SF-36 scores did not differ significantly between groups. RMDQ showed a significant amelioration in both groups (TG and CG p < 0.000), with a tendency to a superior benefit in the TG (p = 0.083). Patients in the TG recorded significantly fewer days of sick leave in month 3 after treatment (p = 0.026). MRI scan summary scores improved significantly in both groups (L4/5 p < 0.000, L5/S1 p < 0.001) and did not differ significantly between the groups.


This trial was the first to investigate the effects of tNMR as an additional treatment of lumbar disc herniation with LRS. The application of tNMR did not meet MCID criteria. It rendered few statistically significant differences between patient groups. The overall results of this trial make a clinical implementation of tNMR in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation with LRS appear premature. Further research is needed to better understand the mode of action of tNMR on compressed neural tissue and to elucidate the issue of the cost/benefit ratio.


Low back pain Lumbar disc herniation Lumbar radicular syndrome Nuclear magnetic resonance therapy VAS and sick leave SF-36 and Roland Morris disability questionnaire 



Lumbar radicular syndrome


Control group


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug


Roland Morris disability questionnaire


36-item short form health survey


Treatment group


(Therapeutic) nuclear magnetic resonance


Magnetic resonance imaging


Visual analogue scale


Minimal clinically important difference



Industry funds were received for this work from MBST® Osteo Dolor Med, AD Elektronik GmbH, Wetzlar, Germany. No additional benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript. The authors thank Margot Fischer for her substantial contribution.

Conflict of interest

The Center of Excellence for Orthopaedic Pain Management Speising, Vienna, Austria received industry funds for this work from MBST® Osteo Dolor Med, AD Elektronik GmbH, Wetzlar, Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Salfinger
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Salomonowitz
    • 2
  • K. M. Friedrich
    • 2
  • J. Hahne
    • 1
  • J. Holzapfel
    • 1
  • M. Friedrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Excellence for Orthopaedic Pain Management SpeisingViennaAustria
  2. 2.University Clinic for RadiodiagnosticsMedical University ViennaViennaAustria

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