Project descriptionThe key barrier to effective prevention and treatment of low back pain is the current lack of understanding of the underlying causes, one of which is degenerative structural changes to the lumbar intervertebral discs. A significant predictor for disc degeneration has been found to be disc herniation, where the nucleus pulposus is forced out of the annulus fibrosus to press against the nerves and spinal cord, causing radiating leg pain, numbness and significant disruption to everyday activities. One of the regions in the annulus at highest risk of failure initiation is at the boundary between lamellae, which is referred to as the inter-lamellar matrix (ILM). Circumferential disruption of the ILM has been observed as a likely pathway for the nucleus pulposus material to follow during herniation. We know that disc herniation is caused by excessive compressive loading during lifting while bending and twisting, however we don’t know where this damage initiates, nor at what threshold level of loading. This study will load discs in the hexapod robot at incremental levels, followed by microstructural assessment to determine the threshold of injury. Identification of this injury threshold may be used to support the development of safe manual handling guidelines to limit lifting motions that could cause herniation in both the short- and long-term.
Co-supervisorsMr Michael Russo