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Intervertebral discs lie along the spinal column and together make up the vertebral column, supporting the body as a whole. Each vertebral disc exhibits a joint, allowing motion along the spine and providing shock absorption. This joint also holds the vertebrae together.
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The physical demands of sport lead to very high compressive and shear forces often several times greater than body weight, across the three-joint complex. A normal intervertebral disc is generally more tolerant of compressive than shear force, with the potential for greater anulus disruption occuring at greater than 3 degrees of segmental rotation.¹
¹Garfin MD, Steven. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update : Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1997.