Cédric Barrey, Pierre Roussouly, Jean-Charles Le Huec, Gennaro D’Acunzi, Gilles Perrin

November 2013, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 834 - 841 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-013-3030-z

First Online: 20 September 2013


Aging spine is characterized by facet joints arthritis, degenerative disc disease, bone remodeling and atrophy of extensor muscles resulting in a progressive kyphosis of the lumbar spine.


The aim of this paper is to describe the different compensatory mechanisms for patients with severe degenerative lumbar spine.

Material and methods

According to the severity of the imbalance, three stages are observed: balanced, balanced with compensatory mechanisms and imbalanced. For the two last stages, the compensatory mechanisms permit to limit the consequences of loss of lumbar lordosis on global sagittal alignment and therefore contribute to keep the sagittal balance of the spine.


The basic concept is to extend adjacent segments of the kyphotic spine allowing for compensation of the sagittal unbalance but potentially inducing adverse effects.


Finally, we propose a three-step algorithm to analyze the global balance status and take into consideration the presence of the compensatory mechanisms in the spinal, pelvic and lower limb areas.

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