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Unique skeletal muscle design contributes to spine stability
Date:1/7/2009

tly surgery to treat spinal disorders could actually disrupt the multifidus muscle, which could lead to decreased stabilization and lower back pain. Minimally invasive spine surgery techniques strive to minimize surgical trauma to these muscles in order to best preserve their function.

The lower back, or lumbar spine, can be vulnerable to many pain-causing injuries or disorders because the lumbar vertebrae carry the most body weight and are subject to the most force and stress along the spine. Muscular instability is a risk factor in many injuries and consequent chronic lower back pain, according to Lieber.

"The multifidus back muscle keeps us vertical and takes pressure off the discs," said Lieber. "When muscle function is poor due to back problems, support is lost."

He explained that many muscles get weaker as they are extended. But the researchers discovered that, unlike all other muscles, the multifidus actually becomes stronger as it lengthens, when the spine flexes.

"The length of the sarcomerethe structure within the muscle cell where filaments overlap to produce the movements required for muscle contractionis shorter in the multifidus than in any other muscle cell," explained study's first author Samuel R. Ward, P.T., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "But as it gets longer, for instance as a person leans forward, the multifidus actually strengthens."


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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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