Parkkola R.; Kormano, M.Journal of Spinal Disorders: March 1992 Original Article: PDF Only Abstract Summary Lumbar intervertebral discs and paraspinal muscles in 74 healthy volunteers ranging in age from 19 to 74 years were evaluated with MRI, and the occurrence of degeneration was correlated to age and body mass. Muscle size and the amount of fat in the muscles was studied from MRI cross sections. When the back muscles were degenerated, they were small and contained fat deposits. By contrast, the psoas muscles never showed gross fat deposits. Degeneration of both the lumbar discs and muscles increased with age. No correlation was found between muscle degeneration and overweight. Muscle degeneration is as common as disc degeneration in the lumbar area. MRI is an excellent method to assess both muscle and disc degeneration. © Lippincott-Raven Publishers.