Rochester, Minnesota Clinical Profile


The primary research interests of Ralph E. Gay, M.D., are low back pain and the biomechanics of the lumbar spine. He is particularly interested in the effect of loading and off-loading stress on intervertebral discs, the biomechanical effects of spinal manipulation, and the effects of nonsurgical treatments for low back pain.

Focus areas

  • Measurement of vertebral motion with videofluoroscopy
  • Effect of flexion-distraction manipulation on intradiscal pressure
  • Effect of vertebral bone mineral density distribution on fracture risk

Dr. Gay is part of a multidisciplinary research team in the Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory. Other active spine projects in the lab include predictive models of spinal fracture in osteoporosis (validation of finite element analysis) and the imaging of taut bands in painful muscles using magnetic resonance elastography.

Significance to patient care

Although it is well known that back pain is affected by motion, the relationship between spinal motion and pain is poorly understood. Clarification of that relationship will yield new innovative treatments for back pain.


Administrative Appointment

  1. Emeritus, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  2. Supplemental, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Academic Rank

  1. Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


  1. MS - Clinical Research Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  2. Resident - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Mayo Clinic in Rochester
  3. Resident Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Programs in Rochester, Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  4. Internship - Transitional Gundersen Clinic/Lutheran Hospital
  5. MD University of Colorado School of Medicine
  6. Pre-Med University of Colorado
  7. Counseling psychology Denver Seminary
  8. Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) 9/79 Logan College of Chiropractic
  9. BS - Human Biology Logan College of Chiropractic
  10. AA Mineral Area College
  11. Pre-Med University of Missouri, Columbia

Clinical Studies

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