Increasing BMI increases lumbar intervertebral disc deformation following a treadmill walking stress test.
High body mass index (BMI) and obesity have been implicated as risk factors for lumbar degenerative disc disease and low back pain. Despite this, there is limited in vivo data to quantify how obesity influences the mechanical function of intervertebral discs (IVD) in response to activities of daily living. Recently, our lab has developed methodologies to non-invasively measure in vivo IVD deformation resulting from activities of daily living using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and solid modeling techniques. This pilot study expands on these methodologies to assess how BMI influences IVD deformation following treadmill walking in eight asymptomatic individuals. Ordinary least squares regression analyses revealed a statistically significant relationship between BMI and compressive deformation (strain (%)) in the L5-S1 IVD (R2 = 0.61, p < 0.05). This relationship was weaker in the L3-L4 (R2 = 0.28, p > 0.05) and L4-L5 IVDs (R2 = 0.28, p > 0.05). Importantly, no relationship between pre-exercise disc height and BMI was identified (p > 0.05). Therefore, the results of this study suggest that BMI may alter the mechanical response of lumbar spine IVDs, particularly at the L5-S1 level. Furthermore, the observed relationship between increased BMI and IVD compressive deformation, in the absence of a detected relationship between pre-exercise disc height and BMI, suggests that changes in IVD mechanical function may be more sensitive to alterations in disc health than static clinical imaging alone. This finding highlights the importance of quantifying disc mechanical function when examining the relationship between BMI and IVD degeneration.
Coppock, JA; Danyluk, ST; Englander, ZA; Spritzer, CE; Goode, AP; DeFrate, LE
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