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Disc Loading – The Poroelastic Behaviour

Disc Loading4

The intervertebral disc is a unique structure and has a role in disc loading through its characteristics of poroelasticity.

It is the water-binding capacity of the nucleus pulposus that allows the disc to release and absorb water when disc loading and unloading occurs, respectively.

The intervertebral disc allows flexibility of the spinal column while having a fundamental role of vertebral spacing. The discs primarily resist axial loads during daily activities to be recovered in height during sleep and recumbency.

When discs degenerate, it is thought they lose their elasticity and the interstitial flow.

In a recent (Full Text) research article in Cells and Materials, Emanuel et al. looked to answer how a degenerated disc behaves differently in poroelasticity during disc loading.

These authors used 36 lumbar discs over ten days of disc loading. They categorized the discs into degeneration categories using Pfirrmann Score (PS) by way of MRI imaging.

What they found was degenerated disc have less binding capacity and respective poroelasticity when compared to normal discs. Degenerated discs lose more disc height when loaded and cause the vertebrae to approximate one another.


Dynamic Disc Designs highlights important research in the better understanding of dynamic disc concepts for effective patient education.

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