Louise Rosenqvist, Hanna Hebelka, Adad Baranto, Helena Brisby, Kerstin Lagerstrand

October 2023, pp 1 - 8 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-023-07961-5

First Online: 10 October 2023


To characterize the discs and vertebrae in detail over time in a group of adolescent individuals with varying training doses using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Thirty-five students were recruited from regular high schools (n=13) as well as schools with athlete competitive skiing programmes (n = 22). The thoraco-lumbar spine of all individuals was examined at baseline and at 2-year follow-up using the same 1.5T scanner and imaging protocol. The individuals were grouped based on their reported training dose: low-to-normal training dose (≤5 h/week, n = 11, mean age 16.5 ± 0.5 years) and high training dose (>5 h/week, n = 24, mean age 17.2 ± 0.6 years.)


At baseline, the signal intensity in the discs and vertebrae were significantly lower in individuals reporting high compared to low-to-normal training dose. The vertebral signal changed significantly over the 2-year period in both groups. However, only individuals reporting low-to-normal training dose displayed an overall disc signal change. Interestingly, the regional analysis displayed at baseline high annular signals in the more training-active individuals followed by a reduction over the two-year period.


This study suggests that disc degeneration is manifested earlier in individuals reporting a higher training dose. Over a 2-year period, however, the degeneration process did not accelerate further. Also, a significant difference in the vertebral signal, at baseline and follow-up as well as over time, could be seen between groups of individuals reporting high versus low-to-normal training dose.

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