DOI: 10.1155/2023/2028379 ISSN:

Functional Alterations of the Basal Ganglia Are Associated with Voluntary Activation of the Core Stabilizing Muscles in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Cross-Sectional Study

Chanjuan Zhang, Xi Chen, Yi Yin, Dongfeng Xie, Jing Luo, Yinan Ai, Wenfeng Zhan, Hongjun Kan, Shuxian Zhang, Guihua Jiang, Xiquan Hu
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Neurology

Purpose. Deficits in voluntary activation of the core stabilizing muscles are consistently observed in patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP); however, the underlying neural mechanism remains unclear. This cross-sectional study aimed at testing the hypothesis that the impaired voluntary activation of core stabilizing muscles is associated with structural and functional alterations in the basal ganglia, thalamus, and cortex in patients with CLBP. Methods. We obtained structural and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data from 53 patients with CLBP and 67 healthy controls and estimated the alterations in grey matter volume (GMV) and functional and effective connectivity (EC) of regions with altered GMV via whole brain analysis. The voluntary activation of the multifidus (MF) and transversus abdominis (TrA) was evaluated by ultrasound imaging in these patients. Results. Compared with the HCs, they displayed a significant decrease in GMV in the bilateral thalamus and caudate nucleus, a significant increase in GMV in the left middle frontal gyrus, and increased resting-state functional connectivity between the right caudate nucleus and the bilateral precuneus (voxel-level p < 0.005 , Gaussian random field-corrected p < 0.05 ). The patients also showed increased EC from the right caudate nucleus to the bilateral precuneus, which was significantly correlated with voluntary activation of the bilateral MF and TrA (all p < 0.050 ). Conclusions. Grey matter alterations may be confined to regions responsible for perception, motor control, and emotion regulation in patients with CLBP. The interrupted EC from the basal ganglia to the default mode network might be involved in the impairment of voluntary activation of the core stabilizing muscles.

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