Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Zero-G and spines

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Astronauts get more intervertebral disc herniations when they come down to Earth, probably because the darn things swell up in zero-G. We’re used to thinking about disc herniation as something that happens because of gravity … not because it’s absent! I’m sure most of us probably assume that taking the pressure off is nice for spines (and maybe it is while you’re still floating around).

But apparently discs get a bit poofy and unstable if you don’t keep the pressure on ‘em.

And … every time herniations come up, it’s important to emphasize that they are an over-rated problem. Of course they occur, and make some people miserable, but their severity and clinical importance has also been blown way out of proportion for decades.

End of post marker

Last post: Why is musculoskeletal medicine such a mess?

Next post: Taking out the trash: purging predatory journals from my bibliography