Sensitivity of lumbar spine response to follower load and flexion moment: finite element study

Sadegh Naserkhaki, Marwan El-Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The follower load (FL) combined with moments is commonly used to approximate flexed/extended posture of the lumbar spine in absence of muscles in biomechanical studies. There is a lack of consensus as to what magnitudes simulate better the physiological conditions. Considering the in-vivo measured values of the intradiscal pressure (IDP), intervertebral rotations (IVRs) and the disc loads, sensitivity of these spinal responses to different FL and flexion moment magnitudes was investigated using a 3D nonlinear finite element (FE) model of ligamentous lumbosacral spine. Optimal magnitudes of FL and moment that minimize deviation of the model predictions from in-vivo data were determined. Results revealed that the spinal parameters i.e. the IVRs, disc moment, and the increase in disc force and moment from neutral to flexed posture were more sensitive to moment magnitude than FL magnitude in case of flexion. The disc force and IDP were more sensitive to the FL magnitude than moment magnitude. The optimal ranges of FL and flexion moment magnitudes were 900–1100 N and 9.9–11.2 Nm, respectively. The FL magnitude had reverse effect on the IDP and disc force. Thus, magnitude for FL or flexion that minimizes the deviation of all the spinal parameters together from the in-vivo data can vary. To obtain reasonable compromise between the IDP and disc force, our findings recommend that FL of low magnitude must be combined with flexion moment of high intensity and vice versa.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)550-557
Number of pages8
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 Apr 2017


  • finite element study
  • follower load
  • Lumbar spine
  • optimal load
  • sensitivity


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