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Maintaining bone health in the lumbar spine: routine activities alone are not enough

  • Favier, C
  • McGregor, A
  • Phillips, A
Publication Date
Apr 14, 2021
UPCommons. Portal del coneixement obert de la UPC
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Public health organisations typically recommend a minimum amount of moderate intensity activities such as walking or cycling for two and a half hours a week, combined with some more demanding physical activity on at least 2 days a week to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal condition. For populations at risk of bone loss in the lumbar spine, these guidelines are particularly relevant. However, an understanding of how these different activities are influential in maintaining vertebral bone health is lacking. A predictive structural finite element modelling approach using a strain-driven algorithm was developed to study mechanical stimulus and bone adaptation in the lumbar spine under various physiological loading conditions. These loading conditions were obtained with a previously developed full-body musculoskeletal model for a range of daily living activities representative of a healthy lifestyle. Activities of interest for the simulations include moderate intensity activities involving limited spine movements in all directions such as, walking, stair ascent and descent, sitting down and standing up, and more demanding activities with large spine movements during reaching and lifting tasks. For a combination of moderate and more demanding activities, the finite element model predicted a trabecular and cortical bone architecture representative of a healthy vertebra. When more demanding activities were removed from the simulations, areas at risk of bone degradation were observed at all lumbar levels in the anterior part of the vertebral body, the transverse processes and the spinous process. Moderate intensity activities alone were found to be insufficient in providing a mechanical stimulus to prevent bone degradation. More demanding physical activities are essential to maintain bone health in the lumbar spine.

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