Number of cases Mainz: 0 (warning level Grün) Action plan

Number of cases campus Koblenz: 1 (warning level Gelb until 02.12.2020) Action plan

Number of cases campus Landau: 0 (warning level Grün) Action plan

Spinal Load Distribution of Overweight

In recent decades, overweight and obesity has become a major global health problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) called obesity even as the biggest chronic health problem [1]. The increasing number of overweight and obese people has a serious impact on the health system. Obese patients produce significantly higher medical costs than non-obese patients. The study of Efferts [2] shows that the cost of obesity is, in Germany, about 20 billion euros per year.

Being overweight does not only harm the organs and metabolism, but also the joints. Whereas investigation of relationship between obesity and cardiovascular disease are in focus of many studies, the effects of obesity on spinal loads are insufficiently investigated. The research studies of Mikkonen, Heuch and Kaila-Kangas [3-5] describe a direct correlation between back pain and obesity.

In our research project we analyze these effects with the help of multibody simulation (MBS). Surface models of different weight classes, including their anthropometric characteristics, were created. In a first step we implemented a sophisticated simulation model of the lumbar spine in these surface models.


Spinal Load Distribution

In a further step a model of the whole spine was created and also fused with surface models.


As this is an ongoing project, the MBS modelling should be understood as an initial approach. To increase the precision of the biomechanical behavior of the different model parts, a sensitivity analysis of the input parameter will be performed. An extremely important spinal structure that describes the dynamics of the musculoskeletal system is the spinal musculature. Up to now, the muscle groups of the erector spinae and the rectus abdominis implemented in the models are very simple. Specific muscle models that describing the dynamics of muscle contraction in an appropriate manner [6,7], are subject to our ongoing research.










[1] World Health Organization Consultation on Obesity, editors. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2000. 252 p. DOI 10665/42330
[2] Efferts, T.; Linder, R.; Verheyen F. (2013): Die ökonomischen Kosten von Adipositas in Deutschland. Poster für die 8. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie der Universität Leipzig.
[3] Mikkonen P, Laitinen J, Remes J, Tammelin T, Taimela S, Kaikkonen K, Zitting P, Korpelainen R, Karppinen J: Association Between Overweight and Low Back Pain. Spine. 38 (12), 2013: 1026–1033. DOI 10.1093/aje/kwp356 [4] Heuch I, Hagen K, Zwart J-A: Body Mass Index as a Risk Factor for Developing Chronic Low Back Pain. Spine. 38 (2), 2013: 133–139. DOI 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182647af2
[5] Kaila-Kangas L, Leino-Arjas P, Hilkka, Luukkonen R, Kirjonen J: Smoking and Overweight as Predictors of Hospitalization for Back Disorders. Spine. 28 (16), 2003: 1860–1868. DOI 10.1097/01.BRS.0000083284.47176.80 [6] Rockenfeller R, Götz T: Optimal Control of Isometric Muscle Dynamic. Journal of Mathematical and Fundamental Sciences. 47(1), 2015: 12-30
[7] Robert Rockenfeller, Michael Günther, Syn Schmitt, and Thomas Götz, “Comparative Sensitivity Analysis of Muscle Activation Dynamics,” Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 585409, 16 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/585409