The intervertebral disc provides flexibility and load support for the spine. It consists of two main regions; the outer annulus fibrosus which is a highly organized collagen matrix and the inner nucleus pulposus which (in a healthy disc) is a proteoglycan rich gelatinous material. The predominant mode of loading on the intervertebral disc is axial compression, which generates hydrostatic pressures within the disc. The high water content of the nucleus plays a major role in supporting these loads. With age and degeneration, the water content of the nucleus changes, and is believed to significantly impact its ability to bear load. The purpose of this study therefore, was to define the effects of swelling conditions (which affect disc hydration) on the material properties of the disc under compressive loading.

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