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Positional Disc Pressures

In 1964, Professor Nachemson performed a study on the intradiscal pressures associated with various positions.  This study is extremely useful in order to provide guidance regarding positions which may increase pressure and result in further injury and/or pain.

It was found that in normal discs the pressure was highest in the sitting position, about 30% less standing and about 50% less in the reclining position.  In summary, the upright disc pressure was 10 times greater than the recumbent pressure.  The seated partially flexed position was 11 times the pressure of the recumbent disc.

The clinically relevant data correlates with symptoms generation.  That’s why a disrupted disc is the least painful when pressures are the lowest and the person is recumbent.  Also, the most pain in symptomatic discs is when pressures are the highest in positions of standing or sitting in a forward flexed position.

To learn more about Dr. Cotler or to schedule an appointment, please call us on (713) 523-8884 or visit

Howard B. Cotler, MD, FACS, FAAOS is board certified and recertified in Orthopedic Surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

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