In Silico Meta-Analysis of Boundary Conditions for Experimental Tests on the Lumbar Spine

Ann Biomed Eng. 2022 Oct;50(10):1243-1254. doi: 10.1007/s10439-022-03015-x. Epub 2022 Jul 29.


The study of the spine range of motion under given external load has been the object of many studies in literature, finalised to a better understanding of the spine biomechanics, its physiology, eventual pathologic conditions and possible rehabilitation strategies. However, the huge amount of experimental work performed so far cannot be straightforwardly analysed due to significant differences among loading set-ups. This work performs a meta-analysis of various boundary conditions in literature, focusing on the flexion/extension behaviour of the lumbar spine. The comparison among range of motions is performed virtually through a validated multibody model. Results clearly illustrated the effect of various boundary conditions which can be met in literature, so justifying differences of biomechanical behaviours reported by authors implementing different set-up: for example, a higher value of the follower load can indeed result in a stiffer behaviour; the application of force producing spurious moments results in an apparently more deformable behaviour, however the respective effects change at various segments along the spine due to its natural curvature. These outcomes are reported not only in qualitative, but also in quantitative terms. The numerical approach here followed to perform the meta-analysis is original and it proved to be effective thanks to the bypass of the natural variability among specimens which might completely or partially hinder the effect of some boundary conditions. In addition, it can provide very complete information since the behaviour of each functional spinal unit can be recorded. On the whole, the work provided an extensive review of lumbar spine loading in flexion/extension.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Follower load; Lumbar spine; Mechanical tests; Multibody; ROM.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae* / physiology
  • Lumbosacral Region*
  • Motion
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology