The Study of Lower Back Pain in Crewmembers During Space Flight (Muscle) experiment examines the details on development of low back pain during flight in ISS crewmembers.Principal Investigator(s)
University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, , Netherlands
European Space Agency (ESA)Sponsoring Organization
Information PendingResearch Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
October 2003 - October 2009Expeditions Assigned
8,9,12,14,15,16,18,19/20Previous ISS Missions
In the weightless conditions of space, crewmembers often experience some form of lower back pain. This is extraordinary since, on Earth, back pain is associated with heavy spinal load, mainly a consequence of gravity.
Scientists have therefore developed a hypothesis that lower back pain may develop without compression of the vertebra. The explanation of the problem comes from the fact that the lower part of the vertebrae, the sacral bone, has to be kept in position in the pelvic girdle (hip bones). And a deep "muscle corset" plays an important role in this process, with the tonic postural muscles being activated when getting up in the morning and deactivated when resting.
It is hypothesized that this protective mechanism does not work in space. In space crewmember bones lose calcium and strength, their muscles lose mass: therefore, it is thought that the deep muscle corset atrophies during space flight, leading to strain in certain ligaments, in particular in the lower region in the back, and causing as a consequence low back pain in crewmembers.
The Study of Lower Back Pain in Crewmembers During Space Flight (Muscle) experiment studies the development of low back pain on crews during space flight, with the objective to assess the level of atrophy in the deep muscle corset in response to exposure to microgravity.
Information PendingEarth Applications
Crewmembers complete questionnaires daily on orbit, indicating if they are experiencing pain, what type of pain and the intensity. At L-10 +/- 5, baseline data are collected with the questionnaire. In-flight, the questionnaire is completed at the end of every flight day. Postflight, at R+10 +/- 5, data on return to gravity load are collected with the questionnaire.Operational Protocols
The questionnaire starts with "Did you experience pain today in the lower back?" If the answer is "Yes", questions about type and intensity of pain are completed with the use of a visual analogue scale. Crewmembers are also asked if the back was painful almost all the time, what provoked the low back pain and if it was possible to relieve the pain.