A large deformation elasto-static finite element formulation is developed and used for the determination of the role of bone compliance in mechanics of a lumbar motion segment. This is done by simulating each vertebra as a deformable body with realistic material properties, as a deformable body with stiffer or softer mechanical properties, as a single rigid body, or finally as two rigid bodies attached by deformable beams. The single loadings of axial compression, flexion moment, extension moment, and axial torque are considered. The results indicate the marked effect of alteration in bone material properties on biomechanics of lumbar segments specially under larger loads. The biomechanical studies of the lumbar spine should, therefore, be performed and evaluated in the light of such dependency. A model for bony vertebrae is finally proposed that preserves both the accuracy and the cost-efficiency in nonlinear finite element analyses of spinal multi-motion segment systems.

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