Torsion as a cause of failure in the lumbar intervertebral joint was studied using a three-dimensional nonlinear finite element model. The role of facets and ligaments as well as the stress distributions in the posterior elements, the disk, the ligaments, and the vertebral body were examined. For physiological range of torsion, the facets carried 10 to 40 percent of the torque. The fiber stresses in the disk were the highest at the lateral margin of the outer layer of the annulus. Therefore, torsion itself is unlikely to cause posterior or posterolateral disk prolapse.

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