Research Unit 5177 - Dynamics of the spine 

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  • Research Unit 5177 - Dynamics of the spine

    Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) FOR 5177 - 439742772

The Dynamics of the Spine, Mechanics, Morphology and Movement Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of low Back Pain

Low back pain and our modern lifestyle are often directly related. Lack of exercise, obesity, incorrect posture at work, frequent and incorrect lifting and carrying of loads can induce muscle tension, which can manifest itself as low back pain. In addition, certain physical diseases can promote pain. Stress and everyday concerns do not leave our backs unscathed either, because in addition to physical diseases, mood and psychological stress can also increase muscle tension and be associated with back pain.

Currently, the clinical decision to apply conservative or surgical interventions is based on physical history, underlying spinal pathology observed in static images (X-ray, CT, MRI) and a short physical examination. Such snapshot analyses rarely represent the natural postures of patients during daily life, completely neglect the dynamics of spinal mobility and loading and usually do not consider psycho-social circumstances. Thus, they do not sufficiently characterize the underlying mechanisms of tissue degeneration, local inflammation and pain. To date, none of the international guidelines incorporate pathogenesis with regards to mechanics, morphology and motion. This often results in wrong diagnoses and therapy decisions, which later turn out to be "therapy failures".

We want to improve this unsatisfactory situation through scientific studies. In the future, the spine must be understood as an organ system "with dynamic function" where psychosocial relationships are included. We want to progress from a short-term "snapshot" image to a more valid, dynamic analysis of the (dys-) functioned spine. This is the only way to reduce the substantial failure rate of surgical and non-surgical interventions.

The Research Unit brings together orthopedic surgeons, imaging specialists, biomechanics experts, computer modelers, pain experts, health psychologists, and training scientists as well as veterinarians, biologists and material scientists to reveal how spinal shape and geometry (Morphology), physical activity and spino-pelvic kinematics (Motion) and lumbar spinal loading (Mechanics) are interlinked and associated with LBP.