Cadaveric lumbar spine specimens of "motion segments", each including two vertebrae and the linking disc and facet joints, were compressed. The pressure across the facet joints was measured using interposed pressure-recording paper. This was repeated for 12 pairs of facet joints at four angles of posture and with three different disc heights. The results were that pressure between the facets increased significantly with narrowing of the disc space and with increasing angles of extension. Extra-articular impingement was found to be caused, or worsened, by disc space narrowing. Increased pressure or impingement may be a source of pain in patients with reduced disc spaces.
- © 1984 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery