The spine undergoes an accordion-like cycle of compression and decompression. This variation occurs not exclusively with the sleep-wake cycle but is influenced by gravity and load orientation of the spine. Researchers have long known that the spine undergoes a diurnal variation with compression changes of water exchange in and out of the intervertebral discs. Much of the attention has been on the discs of the lumbar spine, presumably because of the degree of lower back pain on this planet, but the intervertebral discs are throughout the spine.
In a paper published this month in The Spine Journal, researchers looked at how much the cervical and thoracic discs change with the simple act of lying down. They looked at 101 healthy individuals and found significant volume changes in the cervical and thoracic intervertebral disc heights when the subjects laid down, on average, for 29 minutes. It would seem obvious that this kind of research has been conducted in the past but no.
This basic science research is fundamental if we are to try to figure out the mechanics of optimal load and off-load environments for the spine. Lying down is also a behaviour patients perform when visiting physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Is there a mechanical therapeutic factor of recumbency?
Dynamic Disc Designs develop dynamic spine models to help in the basic understanding of core science in the pursuit of finding the best mechanical strategies for disc height and hydraulic regeneration. Explore.