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ARTICLE

"New Back Pain Discovery
Based on Engineering Principles"


by Dennis Denlinger
Copyright 2007 by Dennis Denlinger
    I applied engineering basics to the human body and made some interesting discoveries. First, that what doctors say about the spinal curve being a shock absorber is not true. An engineer would say that the spine should be held straighter (ie, less curved) by certain muscles so that it can go into a curve as it absorbs mechanical shocks. Basically, a shock absorber needs to be able to deform and to return to the original shape.

    Second, when these certain muscles do not lessen the curve, the ligaments on the outside of the curve carry tension (ie, stretching) load and may hurt. As an example, hold your arm out straight, bend your elbow with the palm down. Allow the wrist to go limp so the hand flops down. Now, using the other hand, press against the back of the flopped hand just enough to start to feel some pain. Here you are stretching ligaments. Next, using the muscles in the back of the forearm with the flopped hand, straighten the wrist, bringing up the flopped hand. Use those muscles to keep the wrist straighter. Now, using the other hand, try to press against the back of the formerly flopped hand forcing the wrist to bend, but using those muscles in the forearm do not let it bend. No matter how hard you press, as long as the wrist is kept straight, it will not hurt. A similar thing can happen in the spine. Here it can be seen that the ligaments can be utilized as backups to the muscles.

    In designing engineered objects it is often necessary to create a backup system in case the primary system is broken (as with exhausted muscles when overused) or off line (as at night when muscles are asleep). When the primary system is off line there need to be bells and whistles and flashing lights to warn the operator that something is wrong - in the body those warnings are pain.

    In addition, when the lower back spring muscle is being used the load on the discs is distributed across the entire disc. However, when the lower back spring muscle is not being used (allowing the spine to curve maximally) the load is concentrated on the rear of the discs, possibly causing increased pressure and injury.

    As an experiment, make both hands into fists, bend the elbows so the fists are near your chest and press the flats of the fists together. Feel how much pressure there is on the fists. Next, rock the fists so only the knuckles (not the flats) of the fists touch and feel how much more pressure is there is due to the same load being concentrated on less area. Next, rock back so the flats touch and feel how the pressure is reduced because the same load is distributed over a greater area. In this experiment the fists represent the vertebra bones - when flat it is like when the spine is held less curved and when the knuckles touch the spine is allowed to curve totally. Finally, have someone else do this with your flat hand between the fists. This time his/her fists represent the vertebra bones and your flat hand represents the disc. Feel how much more pressure is on the disc when the spine is allowed to curve (ie, when the knuckles touch) than when the spine is held less curved (ie, when the knuckles are flat).

    These are engineering basics. They apply to the design of a building and they apply to the way the muscles and bones of the human body are used.

    Also, when the spine is held less curved it is stronger based on the principles first published by Euler in 1759. Basically, the thiner a column is in relation to it's length, the more likely it will fail in bending. Have you ever seen a tall television transmission tower in the country with the guy wires going to the ground? Remove those guy wires and the TV tower would bend and collapse. Those guy wires keep it straight and stronger because it shortens the length in relation to the width. You can do the similar experiment by taking a skinny twig and standing it on a table and pressing down on the end. Notice how it starts to bend and break. Before it breaks, place your other hand in the middle of the twig on the side of the bend to keep it from bending so much and notice how much stronger it becomes. That is the application of another engineering basic.

    Yes I studied engineering while earning my Architectural Degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

    These basic engineering principles as applied to the human body have not yet been clinically studied, although there have been happy people who have tried them on their own bodies. I would be very happy to work with professional researchers doing clinical studies.

    --- Denlinger studied engineering as part of earning an architectural degree at Carnegie-Mellon University. Later in life he made Denlinger's Discovery™ by using engineering basics to handle otherwise untreatable severe pains in his own body. Web sites for more information: http://www.NeckBackFootPain.com and http://www.FootArch.com



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