Research Papers

The Effect of Creep on Human Lumbar Intervertebral Disk Impact Mechanics

[+] Author and Article Information
David Jamison

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Villanova University,
Villanova, PA 19085
e-mail: david.jamison@villanova.edu

Michele S. Marcolongo

Department of Materials
Science and Engineering,
Drexel University,
Philadelphia, PA 19104

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Bioengineering Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering. Manuscript received May 9, 2013; final manuscript received October 31, 2013; accepted manuscript posted November 25, 2013; published online February 17, 2014. Assoc. Editor: James C. Iatridis.

J Biomech Eng 136(3), 031006 (Feb 17, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: BIO-13-1224; doi: 10.1115/1.4026107 History: Received May 09, 2013; Revised October 31, 2013; Accepted November 25, 2013

The intervertebral disk (IVD) is a highly hydrated tissue, with interstitial fluid making up 80% of the wet weight of the nucleus pulposus (NP), and 70% of the annulus fibrosus (AF). It has often been modeled as a biphasic material, consisting of both a solid and fluid phase. The inherent porosity and osmotic potential of the disk causes an efflux of fluid while under constant load, which leads to a continuous displacement phenomenon known as creep. IVD compressive stiffness increases and NP pressure decreases as a result of creep displacement. Though the effects of creep on disk mechanics have been studied extensively, it has been limited to nonimpact loading conditions. The goal of this study is to better understand the influence of creep and fluid loss on IVD impact mechanics. Twenty-four human lumbar disk samples were divided into six groups according to the length of time they underwent creep (tcreep = 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 h) under a constant compressive load of 400 N. At the end of tcreep, each disk was subjected to a sequence of impact loads of varying durations (timp = 80, 160, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000 ms). Energy dissipation (ΔE), stiffness in the toe (ktoe) and linear (klin) regions, and neutral zone (NZ) were measured. Analyzing correlations with tcreep, there was a positive correlation with ΔE and NZ, along with a negative correlation with ktoe. There was no strong correlation between tcreep and klin. The data suggest that the IVD mechanical response to impact loading conditions is altered by fluid content and may result in a disk that exhibits less clinical stability and transfers more load to the AF. This could have implications for risk of diskogenic pain as a function of time of day or tissue hydration.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Mow, V., Kuei, S., Lai, W., and Armstrong, C., 1980, “Biphasic Creep and Stress Relaxation of Articular Cartilage in Compression: Theory and Experiments,” ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 102, pp. 73–84. [CrossRef]
Urban, J. P., and Roberts, S., 2003, “Degeneration of the Intervertebral Disc,” Arthritis Res. Therapy, 5(3), pp. 120–138. [CrossRef]
Johnstone, B., and Bayliss, M. T., 1995, “The Large Proteoglycans of the Human Intervertebral Disc. Changes in Their Biosynthesis and Structure With Age, Topography, and Pathology,” Spine, 20(6), pp. 674–684. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Urban, J. P. G., and McMullin, J. F., 1988, “Swelling Pressure of the Lumbar Intervertebral Discs: Influence of Age, Spinal Level, Composition, and Degeneration,” Spine, 13(2), pp. 179–187. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Buschmann, M. D., and Grodzinsky, A. J., 1995, “A Molecular Model of Proteoglycan-Associated Electrostatic Forces in Cartilage Mechanics,” ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 117(2), pp. 179–192. [CrossRef]
Costi, J. J., Stokes, I. A., Gardner-Morse, M. G., and Iatridis, J. C., 2008, “Frequency-Dependent Behavior of the Intervertebral Disc in Response to Each of Six Degree of Freedom Dynamic Loading: Solid Phase and Fluid Phase Contributions,” Spine, 33(16), p. 1731–1738. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Johannessen, W., Vresilovic, E. J., Wright, A. C., and Elliott, D. M., 2004, “Intervertebral Disc Mechanics Are Restored Following Cyclic Loading and Unloaded Recovery,” Ann. Biomed. Eng., 32(1), pp. 70–76. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Koeller, W., Funke, F., and Hartmann, F., 1984, “Biomechanical Behavior of Human Intervertebral Discs Subjected to Long Lasting Axial Loading,” Biorheology, 21(5), pp. 675–686. [PubMed]
Race, A., Broom, N. D., and Robertson, P., 2000, “Effect of Loading Rate and Hydration on the Mechanical Properties of the Disc,” Spine, 25(6), p. 662–669. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Ferguson, S. J., Ito, K., and Nolte, L. P., 2004, “Fluid Flow and Convective Transport of Solutes Within the Intervertebral Disc,” J. Biomech., 37(2), pp. 213–221. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Malko, J. A., Hutton, W. C., and Fajman, W. A., 2002, “An In vivo MRI Study of the Changes in Volume (and Fluid Content) of the Lumbar Intervertebral Disc After Overnight Bed Rest and During an 8-hour Walking Protocol,” J. Spinal Disord. Techn., 15(2), pp. 157–163. [CrossRef]
McMillan, D., Garbutt, G., and Adams, M., 1996, “Effect of Sustained Loading on the Water Content of Intervertebral Discs: Implications for Disc Metabolism,” Ann. Rheumat. Disease., 55(12), pp. 880–887. [CrossRef]
Adams, M., Dolan, P., Hutton, W., and Porter, R., 1990, “Diurnal Changes in Spinal Mechanics and Their Clinical Significance,” J. Bone Joint Surg. Brit. Vol., 72(2), pp. 266–270.
Nachemson, A., Lewin, T., Maroudas, A., and Freeman, M., 1970, “In Vitro Diffusion of Dye Through the End-Plates and the Annulus Fibrosus of Human Lumbar Inter-Vertebral Discs,” Acta Orthopaed., 41(6), pp. 589–607. [CrossRef]
Elias, P. Z.Nuckley, D. J. and Ching, R. P., 2006, “Effect of Loading Rate on the Compressive Mechanics of the Immature Baboon Cervical Spine,” ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 128, pp. 18–23. [CrossRef]
El-Rich, M., Arnoux, P. J., Wagnac, E., Brunet, C., and Aubin, C. E., 2009, “Finite Element Investigation of the Loading Rate Effect on the Spinal Load-Sharing Changes Under Impact Conditions,” J. Biomech., 42(9), pp. 1252–1262. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Pintar, F. A., Yoganandan, N., and Voo, L., 1998, “Effect of Age and Loading Rate on Human Cervical Spine Injury Threshold,” Spine, 23(18), pp. 1957–1962. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Wang, J. L., Parnianpour, M., Shirazi-Adl, A., and Engin, A. E., 2000, “Viscoelastic Finite-Element Analysis of a Lumbar Motion Segment in Combined Compression and Sagittal Flexion: Effect of Loading Rate,” Spine, 25(3), pp. 310–318. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Holzapfel, G. A., Schulze-Bauer, C., Feigl, G., and Regitnig, P., 2005, “Single Lamellar Mechanics of the Human Lumbar Annulus Fibrosus,” Biomech. Model. Mechanobiol., 3(3), pp. 125–140. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Kemper, A., McNally, C., and Duma, S., 2007, “The Influence of Strain Rate on the Compressive Stiffness Properties of Human Lumbar Intervertebral Discs,” Biomed. Sci. Instrument., 43, pp. 176–181.
Jamison, IV D., Cannella, M., Pierce, E. C., and Marcolongo, M. S., 2013, “A Comparison of the Human Lumbar Intervertebral Disc Mechanical Response to Normal and Impact Loading Conditions,” ASME J. Biomed. Eng., 135(9), p. 091009. [CrossRef]
Lee, C. K., and Kim, E., 2000, “Impact Response of the Intervertebral Disc in a Finite-Element Model,” Spine, 25(19), pp. 2431–2439. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Cannella, M., Arthur, A., Allen, S., Keane, M., Joshi, A., Vresilovic, E., and Marcolongo, M., 2008, “The Role of the Nucleus Pulposus in Neutral Zone Human Lumbar Intervertebral Disc Mechanics,” J. Biomech., 41(10), pp. 2104–2111. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Izambert, O., Mitton, D., Thourot, M., and Lavaste, F., 2003, “Dynamic Stiffness and Damping of Human Intervertebral Disc Using Axial Oscillatory Displacement Under a Free Mass System,” Eur. Spine J., 12(6), pp. 562–566. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Nuckley, D., Kramer, P., Del Rosario, A., Fabro, N., Baran, S., and Ching, R., 2008, “Intervertebral Disc Degeneration in a Naturally Occurring Primate Model: Radiographic and Biomechanical Evidence,” J. Orthopaed. Res., 26(9), pp. 1283–1288. [CrossRef]
Wilke, H., Wenger, K., and Claes, L., 1998, “Testing Criteria for Spinal Implants: Recommendations for the Standardization of in vitro Stability Testing of Spinal Implants,” Eur. Spine J., 7(2), pp. 148–154. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Pflaster, D. S., Krag, M. H., Johnson, C. C., Haugh, L. D., and Pope, M. H., 1997, “Effect of Test Environment on Intervertebral Disc Hydration,” Spine, 22(2), pp. 133–139. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Schmidt, H., Shirazi-Adl, A., Galbusera, F., and Wilke, H.-J., 2010, “Response Analysis of the Lumbar Spine During Regular Daily Activities—A Finite Element Analysis,” J. Biomech., 43(10), pp. 1849–1856. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Kasra, M., Shirazi-Adl, A., and Drouin, G., 1992, “Dynamics of Human Lumbar Intervertebral Joints: Experimental and Finite-Element Investigations,” Spine, 17(1), pp. 93–102. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Rostedt, M., Ekström, L., Broman, H., and Hansson, T., 1998, “Axial Stiffness of Human Lumbar Motion Segments, Force Dependence,” J. Biomech., 31(6), pp. 503–509. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Adams, M. A., and Hutton, W. C., 1983, “The Effect of Fatigue on the Lumbar Intervertebral Disc,” J. Bone Joint Surg. Brit. Vol., 65(2), pp. 199–203.
White, A. A., and Panjabi, M. M., 1990, Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine, Philadelphia, PA.
Wilke, H. J., Krischak, S., Wenger, K., and Claes, L., 1997, “Load-Displacement Properties of the Thoracolumbar Calf Spine: Experimental Results and Comparison to Known Human Data,” Eur. Spine J., 6(2), pp. 129–137. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Fisher, R. A., 1921, “On the” Probable Error of a Coefficient of Correlation Deduced From a Small Sample,” Metron, 1, pp. 3–32.
Massey, C. J., van Donkelaar, C. C., Vresilovic, E., Zavaliangos, A., and Marcolongo, M., 2012, “Effects of Aging and Degeneration on the Human Intervertebral Disc During the Diurnal Cycle: A Finite Element Study,” J. Orthopaed. Res., 30(1), pp. 122–128. [CrossRef]
O'Connell, G. D., Jacobs, N. T., Sen, S., Vresilovic, E. J., and Elliott, D. M., 2011, “Axial Creep Loading and Unloaded Recovery of the Human Intervertebral Disc and the Effect of Degeneration,” J. Mech. Beh. Biomed. Mat., 4(7), pp. 933–942. [CrossRef]
Massey, C. J., 2009, “Finite Element Analysis and Materials Characterization of Changes Due to Aging and Degeneration of the Human Intervertebral Disc,” Doctor of Philosophy, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.
Nachemson, A., 1960, “Lumbar Intradiscal Pressure. Experimental Studies on Post-Mortem Material,” Acta Orthopaed. Scand. Suppl., 43, pp. 1–104.
Adams, M., McMillan, D., Green, T., and Dolan, P., 1996, “Sustained Loading Generates Stress Concentrations in Lumbar Intervertebral Discs,” Spine, 21(4), pp. 434–438. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Gardner-Morse, M. G., and Stokes, I. A., 2003, “Physiological Axial Compressive Preloads Increase Motion Segment Stiffness, Linearity and Hysteresis in All Six Degrees of Freedom for Small Displacements About the Neutral Posture,” J. Orthopaed. Res., 21(3), pp. 547–552. [CrossRef]
Adams, M. A., Dolan, P., and McNally, D. S., 2009, “The Internal Mechanical Functioning of Intervertebral Discs and Articular Cartilage, and Its Relevance to Matrix Biology,” Matrix Biol., 28(7), pp. 384–389. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Langrana, N. A., Edwards, W. T., and Sharma, M., 1996, “Biomechanical Analyses of Loads on the Lumbar Spine,” The Lumbar Spine, S. W.Weisel, ed., W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, PA, pp. 163–181.
Beckstein, J. C., Sen, S., Schaer, T. P., Vresilovic, E. J., and Elliott, D. M., 2008, “Comparison of Animal Discs Used in Disc Research to Human Lumbar Disc: Axial Compression Mechanics and Glycosaminoglycan Content,” Spine, 33(6), pp. E166–E173. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Brinckmann, P., and Grootenboer, H., 1991, “Change of Disc Height, Radial Disc Bulge, and Intradiscal Pressure From Discectomy. An in vitro Investigation on Human Lumbar Discs,” Spine, 16(6), pp. 641–646. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Shea, M., Takeuchi, T., Wittenberg, R., White, A. A., and Hayes, W., 1994, “A Comparison of the Effects of Automated Percutaneous Diskectomy and Conventional Diskectomy on Intradiscal Pressure, Disk Geometry, and Stiffness,” J. Spinal Disord., 7(4), pp. 317–325. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
JamisonIV, D., Cannella, M., Pierce, E., Martin, S., and Marcolongo, M., “Analysis of Mechanical Behavior of the Lumbar Spine Under High Impact Loading,” Proc. International Conference on Human Performance at Sea, University of Strathclyde, pp. 203–206.
Yingling, V. R., Callaghan, J. P., and McGill, S. M., 1997, “Dynamic Loading Affects the Mechanical Properties and Failure Site of Porcine Spines,” Clin. Biomech., 12(5), pp. 301–305. [CrossRef]
Spenciner, D., Greene, D., Paiva, J., Palumbo, M., and Crisco, J., 2006, “The Multidirectional Bending Properties of the Human Lumbar Intervertebral Disc,” Spine J., 6(3), pp. 248–257. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Adams, M. A., 2004, “Biomechanics of Back Pain,” Acupuncture Med., 22(4), pp. 178–188. [CrossRef]
An, H. S., Masuda, K., and Inoue, N., 2006, “Intervertebral Disc Degeneration: Biological and Biomechanical Factors,” J. Orthopaed. Sci., 11(5), pp. 541–552. [CrossRef]


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Energy dissipation (ΔE) was negatively correlated with both (a) tcreep (some time points omitted for clarity) and (b) timp

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Neutral zone (NZ) was positively correlated with (a) tcreep (some time points omitted for clarity) and negatively correlated with (b) timp

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Load-displacement response of a 1000-ms impact event showing calculation methods for NZ, ΔE, ktoe, and klin

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

X-ray of disk (sagittal section) showing measurements of anterior, middle, and posterior heights. The radiopaque object at the left is a reference metal rod with a diameter of 2.8 mm.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Toe-region stiffness (ktoe) was negatively correlated with both (a) tcreep (some time points omitted for clarity) and (b) timp

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Linear-region stiffness (klin) was positively correlated with (a) tcreep (some time points omitted for clarity) but showed no strong correlation with (b) timp

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Axial strain versus tcreep. Results showed a significant positive correlation between the two parameters.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Plots of NZ versus (a) ΔE and (b) ktoe showed a negative correlation with both pairings




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In