Will there be regeneration of degenerated discs?
For decades a degenerated disc was thought to be a slow descent towards spinal dysfunction. However, when searching out terms like “degeneration” in PubMed, for example, the word “regeneration” is starting to show up in the searches along side degeneration.
Recently, at the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2004. IEMBS ’04. 26th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , Lotz et al. presented a paper (Mechanobiology in Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and Regeneration) explaining that while viewing the disc cells in-vivo they observed a temporal and spatial relationship to disc loading and the potential to influence their behaviour. They stated that by studying these load influences, it could lead to understand disc health and tolerance injury states.
“Our data demonstrates that these cells respond differently to pressure and distortion and survive in the discs mechanical/loading environment…intriguingly setting the stage for disc repair”
Mechanobiology is the study of how mechanics influences biology. Why does exercise help and why does sitting in a chair, without movement, often makes thing worse? Understanding the mechanics will give us insights on how we can influence cells to kick start anabolic behaviour and repair.
In 2004, Setton described “Information on the mechanisms that govern cell responses to mechanical stimuli in the intervertebral disc are just emerging” in Cell Mechanics and Mechanobiology in the Intervertebral Disc . Back pain is the leading cause of disability wordwide and the second most common cause of physician visits. Therefore it only makes sense to look carefully at the influence of mechanics on the intervertebral disc cells.
So, the future does look promising…especially when we are learning that the inflow fluid dynamics are greater than the outflow across the endplate.
At Dynamic Disc Designs Corp. we like to stay abreast of the literature, and highlight it, especially when it comes to mechanobiological strategies that can potentially regenerate degenerated discs.