Lumbar spine mechanical response to axial compression load in vivo.

D. Wisleder, M. B. Smith, T. J. Mosher, V. Zatsiorsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN: Lumbar spine kinematic response to a 1.0 body weight compressive load was measured in vivo by comparison of relaxed and loaded magnetic resonance image sets in the sagittal plane. OBJECTIVES: To identify and measure acute response mechanisms of the lumbar spine during compression loading. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: The isolated ligamentous spine buckles under small loads (88 N); yet, the spine supports >10 times that load in daily activities. Mechanical function of the lumbar spine in vivo is not well understood, and only a few studies examined the spine during in vivo loading. METHODS: Magnetic resonance imaging scans of subjects were taken while subjects were relaxed and while supporting a 1.0 body weight compressive load. Vertebral bodies and disc perimeters were digitized, and relative centroid positions were measured and compared between conditions. Lumbar rotation, bending, compression, and disc translation were determined. Two parameter ensembles were analyzed to describe mechanisms of "spine shrinkage" (decrease of projected spine length) and lumbosacral response. RESULTS: All subjects underwent spine shrinkage (-3.9 +/- 1.2 mm) dominated by cumulative bending, except in three subjects where the rotation component dominated. Levels L2-L4 extended, while L5 flexed, and dL2 through dL4 translated anterior, while dL5 translated posterior. Significant segmental deformations were as follows: L3 extension (-3.3 +/- 3.1 degrees ), dL5 disc translation (-1.4 +/- 1.4 mm), and posterior sacral rotation (3.2 +/- 4.7 degrees ). CONCLUSIONS: Spine shrinkage occurred mainly from spine bending and rotation, with only small contribution from spine compression (shortening along the spine curvature). Response pattern groupings indicated at least two unique subgroups, but the cause remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E403-409
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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