Intervertebral motion during vibration

Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 1991;205(1):39-44. doi: 10.1243/PIME_PROC_1991_205_260_02.


Vibration exposure is widely recognized as a risk factor for low back pain. An experimental protocol was designed to quantify the intervertebral motion response in human subjects to sinusoidal vertical vibration at 5 and 8 Hz, and at a variety of acceleration levels. Intervertebral motion in the mid-sagittal plane was measured using a transducer linkage system attached to pins placed directly into the spinous processes of adjacent vertebrae. The postures of the subjects were carefully controlled. The effects of forward flexion, arm support, gravitational load, and sitting on a cushion were evaluated. The rigid body motion of the superior vertebra with respect to the inferior vertebra was expressed in terms of relative sagittal plane rotation, axial translation, and anterior-posterior shear translation. It was found that the lumbar motion segments exhibited coupled periodic behaviour in response to sinusoidal vertical vibration, with up to 1 mm peak-to-peak displacement in the axial direction. The greatest intervertebral motion occurred when the subject was exposed to 5 Hz vibration as compared to 8 Hz. For a constant frequency of 5 Hz excitation, the peak-to-peak amplitudes of the computed motions tended to increase as the acceleration level increased. In the flexed posture, with no arm support, the active trunk musculature helped reduce the intervertebral motion. Additional gravitational load on the shoulders caused increased relative axial displacement. A polyethylene foam cushion placed on the seat reduced vibration transmission at 5 Hz excitation and consequently decreased the intervertebral motion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / etiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / physiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Posture / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Vibration / adverse effects*