gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Influence of the joint movement in the Intervertebral disc nutrition and the aging process

Meeting Abstract

Suche in Medline nach

  • corresponding author F. Sacks Campos - University of Porto, Portugal
  • J.L. de Souza - University of Porto, Portugal

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa088

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Veröffentlicht: 18. Dezember 2006

© 2006 Sacks Campos et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



The purpose of this review article is to describe the influence of the joint movement in the intervertebral disc nutrition and its relevance to the aging process. Various scientific articles from international journals were reviewed from 1970 to 2005. The analysis criteria for the articles were experimental animals and human “in vitro” and “in vivo” models researches.

It has been established that in the elderly, the nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus no-longer have an active blood supply and received only marginal sustenance from the transfer of tissue fluid across the cartilaginous endplate. The results and the conclusions presented by the researchers demonstrated that joint movement is one of the main factors of disc nutrition. However, new methodologies and technologies need to be developed to clarify the disc nutrition process.

The review of the literature demonstrated three important aspects: (1) the cartilage endplate calcification occurs with aging, retarding the nutrients transportation to the intervertebral disc and making difficult its nutrition. (2) The metabolites are transported by a combination of diffusion and fluid flow. Although diffusion is considered the main mechanism of disc nutritional transport, some researches demonstrated that when there is no movement or pressure gradient, only diffusion is insufficient for optimal disc nutrition. (3) The disc metabolism is influenced by mechanic stress. If there is an excessive compression stress, or when it is removed by vertebral body fusion, or by antigravity, some changes will occur in the synthesis of and proteoglycans content of the intervertebral disc matrix. Thus, the mechanic stress is considered one important factor that regulates the intervertebral disc matrix synthesis.

The spine joint movement is a fundamental factor for disc nutrition and for a healthy disc. It is due to spine joint movement and pressure gradient that the fluid flow is processed. It is important to point out that clinical symptoms will appear just after disc degeneration occurs, and this degenerative process is not self originated, but rather is a result of mechanical alterations that cause damage and degenerative changes in other spine components. In order to understand the effect of mechanical factors in disc health, the spine has to be considerate as a single structure. An irregular spine joint movement will overload the other spine joints, and this reaction will generate a degenerative cascade. Adequate posture in the daily life activities, as well as an adequate exercise program to promote the spine stability and spine joint functionality are essential to prevent and retard this degenerative cascade, and consequently aid in disc nutrition. The prevention of the degenerative cascade needs to begin early in life, but an adequate spine exercise program for the elderly may cause a relieve in back pain and prevent or retard some spine complications that normally occur in old age.