The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of using spinal stabilizing exercise to reduce atrophy of the multifidus and psoas major muscles, decrease the levels of pain and disability, and increase paraspinal muscle strength in patients with degenerative disc disease (DDD). In 33 patients (Age range: 25-65 years) diagnosed with DDD, spinal stabilization exercise was conducted for 8 weeks. The levels of pain and disability were measured prior to and following exercise using the visual analogue scale (VAS) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Paraspinal muscular strength in four directions was evaluated with a CENTAUR 3D Spatial Rotation Device. Cross-sectional areas (CSAs) of both the left and right multifidus and the psoas major at the upper endplate of L4 were measured before and after exercise using computed tomography (CT). After 8 weeks of spinal stabilization exercise, the pain and lumbar disability in subjects was significantly reduced from 6.12±1.24 to 2.43±1.14. The ODI score also improved from 20.18±7.14 to 8.81±5.73. In addition, paraspinal muscle strength increased significantly, while the CSAs of the left and right multifidus and psoas major widened as compared with the pre-exercise size.
This study showed spinal stabilization exercise to be effective for decreasing pain and disability in DDD patients. It was an effective adjunct to aid rehabilitation in these cases.