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Role of the Middle Lumbar Fascia on Spinal Mechanics: A Human Biomechanical Assessment

Ranger, Tom A. BASc, MPhty; Newell, Nicolas PhD; Grant, Caroline A. PhD; Barker, Priscilla J. PhD; Pearcy, Mark J. PhD

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001854

Study Design. Biomechanical experiment.

Objective. The aims of the present study were to test the effect of fascial tension on lumbar segmental axial rotation and lateral flexion and the effect of the angle of fascial attachment.

Summary of Background Data. Tension in the middle layer of lumbar fascia has been demonstrated to affect mechanical properties of lumbar segmental flexion and extension in the neutral zone. The effect of tension on segmental axial rotation and lateral flexion has, however, not been investigated.

Methods. Seven unembalmed lumbar spines were divided into segments and mounted for testing. A 6 degree-of-freedom robotic testing facility was used to displace the segments in each anatomical plane (flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation) with force and moment data recorded by a load cell positioned beneath the test specimen. Tests were performed with and without a 20 N fascia load and the subsequent forces and moments were compared. In addition, forces and moments were compared when the specimens were held in a set position and the fascia loading angle was varied.

Results. A fascial tension of 20 N had no measurable effect on the forces or moments measured when the specimens were displaced in any plane of motion (P > 0.05). When 20 N of fascial load were applied to motion segments in a set position small segmental forces and moments were measured. Changing the angle of the fascial load did not significantly alter these measurements.

Conclusion. Application of a 20 N fascial load did not produce a measureable effect on the mechanics of a motion segment, even though it did produce small measurable forces and moments on the segments when in a fixed position. Results from the present study are inconsistent with previous studies, suggesting that further investigation using multiple testing protocols and different loading conditions is required to determine the effects of fascial loading on spinal segment behavior.

Level of Evidence: N/A

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*Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Paediatric Spine Research Group, Queensland University of Technology and Mater Health Services Brisbane Ltd, Queensland, Australia

Anatomy and Neuroscience, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Tom A. Ranger, BASc, MPhty, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004, Australia; E-mail:

Received 27 April, 2016

Revised 17 July, 2016

Accepted 1 August, 2016

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

No funds were received in support of this work.

Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work: travel/accommodations/meeting expenses.

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