Anatomy of the Spine
The spine is a combination of stacked bones, called vertebrae, flexible tendons and ligaments. The vertebrae are in a column divided into four regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral/coccyx. The spinal cord runs through the column of bones and nerve roots that are critical to the transmission of messages to and from the brain.
Our spinal system is strong enough to protect the sensitive nerve roots, while at the same time it allows us the flexibility to accomplish all the movements of daily life like walking, twisting, bending and lifting. Between the vertebrae are discs, which are spongy pads of cartilage that act like shock absorbers. Each disc, along with the vertebrae immediately above and below, form what is called the spinal motion unit.
Unfortunately between 80 to 90 percent of the population has back or spinal pain at some point in their lives. A spinal motion unit that moves improperly or is overly strained can irritate nerves, interfere with muscle tension and result in pain. This nerve interference is called subluxation. Parts of the body serviced by affected nerves, including blood vessels, internal organs and limbs, may not function optimally because of subluxation.
Trauma, lifting injuries or other unknown causes can create a spinal disc herniation, which is sometimes referred to as a "slipped" or "bulging" disc. When you have ongoing back pain, early diagnosis and care is important to avoid permanent damage.
Taking Care of Your Spinal Health
There are many ways to help take care of your spinal health including practicing correct lifting/carrying techniques, mindfully paying attention to your posture, sleeping with a pillow under your knees, quitting smoking, making sure your diet is nutritious and getting enough exercise.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for healthcare and chiropractic visits but it doesn't have to be part of your daily life. Many back ailments respond well to conservative treatment, and research and studies have demonstrated successful treatment of back pain and injuries through chiropractic adjustments and care. With chiropractic care, gentle adjustments to any misaligned vertebrae may restore normal movement within the spine, decrease irritation of nerves and reduce pain.
A healthy spine is key to your overall well-being. With a normally functioning spine and healthy nervous system, the body is better able to heal itself. Trauma, lifestyle, age and injury can render the spine vulnerable, but chiropractic care can help alleviate discomfort and assist you along the road to improved overall wellness.
Chiro One's Tips to Prevent Back Pain
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight
- Quit smoking to ensure that maximum oxygen and nutrient amounts reach spinal tissues
- Make sure ongoing chiropractic care is part of your wellness lifestyle
- Be active, avoid leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Maintain proper posture
- Wear properly fitted shoes with customized orthotics
- Warm up and stretch before all physical activities, including chores like yard work
- Lift with your knees, with objects close to your body
- Avoid twisting when lifting
- Talk to your chiropractor about creating an ergonomically correct workstation
Read on to learn more:
Back Pain Facts & Statistics, American Chiropractic Association, accessed 2015
Chiropractic Care for Back Pain, National Institutes of Health/U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2013
The Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Chiropractic Management of Low Back-Pain, Ontario Ministry of Health, 1993
United Kingdom back pain exercise and manipulation (UK BEAM) randomised trial: cost effectiveness of physical treatments for back pain in primary care (Abstract), British Medical Journal (BMJ), 2004
Acute Low Back Problems in Adults, Clinical Practice Guideline, Agency on Health Research and Quality (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), 2003
Randomised clinical trial of manipulative therapy and physiotherapy for persistent back and neck complaints: results of one year follow up (Abstract), British Medical Journal (BMJ), 1992