The center (axis) of rotation (COR) in the lumbar spine has been studied well. However, there is limited information on the kinetic and kinematic consequences of imposed shift in the location of the COR, although this type of shift can be seen after surgeries using motion preservation or dynamic stabilization devices. The objective of this study was to assess the kinetic and kinematic changes in the lumbar spinal segment due to various imposed CORs.
A 3D finite element model of the L4–5 segment was constructed and validated. The segment was loaded under a 7.5-Nm bending moment while constrained to rotate about various imposed CORs in the sagittal and axial motion planes. Range of motion, ligament forces, facet loads, and disc stresses were measured.
The present model showed an agreement with previous in vitro and finite element studies under the same load and boundary conditions. Range of motion, facet forces, disc stresses, and ligament loads showed a strong association with the location of the COR.
Acute alterations in the location of the COR can significantly change the load sharing characteristics within the spine segment. The normal location of the COR is a result of the tendency of the vertebra to move in the path of least cumulative resistance.