Determination of trunk muscle forces for flexion and extension by using a validated finite element model of the lumbar spine and measured in vivo data.

Biomechanics Laboratory, Charité, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Hindenburgdamm 30, 12203 Berlin, Germany.
Journal of Biomechanics (Impact Factor: 2.5). 02/2006; 39(6):981-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.02.019
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Muscle forces stabilize the spine and have a great influence on spinal loads. But little is known about their magnitude. In a former in vitro experiment, a good agreement with intradiscal pressure and fixator loads measured in vivo could be achieved for standing and extension of the lumbar spine. However, for flexion the agreement between in vitro and in vivo measurements was insufficient. In order to improve the determination of trunk muscle forces, a three-dimensional nonlinear finite element model of the lumbar spine with an internal fixation device was created and the same loads were applied as in a previous in vitro experiment. An extensive adaptation process of the model was performed for flexion and extension angles up to 20 degrees and -15 degrees, respectively. With this validated computer model intra-abdominal pressure, preload in the fixators, and a combination of hip- and lumbar flexion angle were varied until a good agreement between analytical and in vivo results was reached for both, intradiscal pressure and bending moments in the fixators. Finally, the fixators were removed and the muscle forces for the intact lumbar spine calculated. A good agreement with the in vivo results could only be achieved at a combination of hip- and lumbar flexion. For the intact spine, forces of 170, 100 and 600 N are predicted in the m. erector spinae for standing, 5 degrees extension and 30 degrees flexion, respectively. The force in the m. rectus abdominus for these body positions is less than 25 N. For more than 10 degrees extension the m. erector spinae is unloaded. The finite element method together with in vivo data allows the estimation of trunk muscle forces for different upper body positions in the sagittal plane. In our patients, flexion of the upper body was most likely a combination of hip- and lumbar spine bending.

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