The effect of flexion-extension motion of the lumbar spine on the capacity of the spinal canal. An experimental study

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1989 May;14(5):523-5.

Abstract

The symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis are often posture-dependent, and it is generally accepted that the capacity of the spinal canal is affected by flexion-extension motions of the lumbar spine. A study of spinal capacity in flexion-extension of ten cadaver specimens on the lumbar spine was done and measurements were obtained from the flexion-extension lateral myelograms. There proved to be a larger capacity of dural sac of 3.5 to 6.0 ml (4.85 +/- 0.75 ml) in flexion than in extension, and the differences were highly significant (P less than 0.001). In addition, the sagittal diameter of the dural sac and the length of the spinal canal increased from extension to flexion. Because of the effect of flexion-extension motion of the lumbar spine on the spinal capacity, we suggest that maintaining the lumbar spine in flexion is more suitable since spinal canal capacity is enlarged and symptoms may be mitigated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Posture
  • Spinal Canal / anatomy & histology*
  • Spinal Stenosis / etiology