Risk of Intervertebral Disc Damage after Prolonged Space Flight

Investigator: Jeffrey C. Lotz, PhD
Sponsor: University of California San Diego (UCSD)

Location(s): United States


Among many space-related health changes, crewmembers frequently report back pain while in orbit and when they return to Earth, which physicians believe is related to changes in the astronauts’ intervertebral discs. The discs create a cushion between vertebrae in a person’s spine, and changes to their shape and size can affect the spinal column and back. Crewmembers participating in the Intervertebral Disc Damage experiment complete a battery of six tests before, and after spaceflight, so doctors can determine how the discs change, and whether this correlates to the pain those crewmembers experience.