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Advances in Orthopedics
Volume 2012, Article ID 726210, 17 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/726210
Review Article

Biomechanics of Disc Degeneration

Departments of Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, Engineering Center for Orthopaedic Research Excellence (E-CORE), Colleges of Engineering and Medicine, University of Toledo, Toledo, 5046 NI, OH 43606, USA

Received 9 March 2012; Accepted 21 March 2012

Academic Editor: Brian R. Subach

Copyright © 2012 V. Palepu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Disc degeneration and associated disorders are among the most debated topics in the orthopedic literature over the past few decades. These may be attributed to interrelated mechanical, biochemical, and environmental factors. The treatment options vary from conservative approaches to surgery, depending on the severity of degeneration and response to conservative therapies. Spinal fusion is considered to be the “gold standard” in surgical methods till date. However, the association of adjacent level degeneration has led to the evolution of motion preservation technologies like spinal arthroplasty and posterior dynamic stabilization systems. These new technologies are aimed to address pain and preserve motion while maintaining a proper load sharing among various spinal elements. This paper provides an elaborative biomechanical review of the technologies aimed to address the disc degeneration and reiterates the point that biomechanical efficacy followed by long-term clinical success will allow these nonfusion technologies as alternatives to fusion, at least in certain patient population.