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Microgravity and the Lumbar Spine

Microgravity causes increased swelling to the intervertebral discs of astronauts yielding back pain.

In a study published in the European Spine Journal, researchers looked to understand more clearly the relationship of why disc herniation is multiplied by a factor of four after spaceflight. These researchers looked at the swelling disc height changes as it related to annular strain and how this impacted nuclear pressure while bending forward.

Herniation, protrusion, modelEight human lumbar functional segmental motion units were tested using a free-swelling technique to simulate the microgravity environment.

What they found was that by hyperinflating the discs with saline, so did the pressures within the intervertebral discs. There was also a connection seen with increased annular stress in flexion and compression.

Furthermore, Law’s et al. showed a decrease in flexibility when the discs where hyperhydrated–something that we are understanding more and more now, as Michael Adams published some time ago.

Dynamic Disc Design’s Fully Clear Lumbar Disc Model, for example, is ideal for demonstrating this exact mechanism to patients.

With this model, complicated research can be quickly explained to the patient in helping them understand why morning stiffness leads to decreased flexibility as the disc is hyperhydrated.

Use a flexion disc model to educate patients.


Research like this, which is so important to relay to patients as it helps explain their symptoms, is not always easy to communicate. Dynamic Disc Designs works to simplify the complex, making it easier for you, the professional, to convey important concepts that are easy to understand. Patients that understand are more compliant and this process will inevitably lead to better clinical outcomes. And in turn, it is the outcome that ultimately determines a doctor’s income.

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