Spinal Balance/Alignment - Clinical Relevance and Biomechanics

J Biomech Eng. 2019 May 2. doi: 10.1115/1.4043650. Online ahead of print.


In the normal spine due to its curvature in various regions, C7 plumb line (C7PL) passes through the sacrum so that the head is centered over the pelvis-ball and socket hip joints and ankle joints. This configuration leads to the least muscular activities to maintain the spinal balance. For any reason like deformity, scoliosis, kyphosis, trauma, and/or surgery this optimal configuration gets disturbed requiring higher muscular activity to maintain the posture and balance. Several parameters like the thoracic kyphosis (TK), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic incidence (PI), sacral slope (SS), Hip- and leg position influence the sagittal balance and thus the optimal configuration of spinal alignment. Global sagittal imbalance is energy consuming and often painful compensatory mechanisms are developed, that in turn negatively influence the quality of life. This review looks at the clinical aspects of spinal imbalance, and the biomechanics of spinal balance as dictated by the deformities- ankylosing spondylitis, scoliosis and kyphosis; surgical corrections- pedicle subtraction osteotomies and long segment stabilizations and consequent postural complications like the proximal and distal junctional kyphosis. This review suggests several potential research topics as well.