Spine function: a concert of many different players


The functional anatomy of the human spine and its supporting tissue structures is often not well understood, especially when the interactions of the various fundamentally different players in the team have to be taken into account. The cooperation of different tissues at a microscopic and macroscopic level has enabled the human spine to provide a complicated biomechanical function which has to be maintained over a long period. It is still a significant challenge to therapeutically restore a loss of that function. Spinal intervention and spinal implant development therefore are increasingly important issues in modern medicine. Yet less than satisfactory results are often reported, and there seems to be a need for a more basic science-driven summary to enable application-oriented medical research in finding better solutions for clinical problems. This issue of the Journal aims to provide current knowledge surveys on aspects of functional spine anatomy at cell, tissue and macroscopic levels and also presents research manuscripts which cover related subjects of anatomy.

The current symposium issue provides selected reviews on special fields of spine and spine-related topics which should be of interest to a wider audience. Topics include reviews on biology of intervertebral disc cells and intervertebral disc degeneration. There is an extended review on sacroiliac joint function which is still somewhat conversely discussed in the literature. A topographically and functionally related structure is the thoracolumbar fascia which gets increasingly more clinical attention and needs to be addressed in a review.