A chiropractor is a doctor of the spine. While our chiropractors can help with a host of conditions that stem from musculoskeletal problems, matters of the spine is where they shine. At Utah Sports and Wellness, we understand that making sure the spine is optimally aligned will resolve many of the other problems the body experiences. If you are experiencing spine pain, reach out to us at Utah Sports and Wellness, in Millcreek, Utah to find the best care for you.
Structure of the Spine
Understanding the structure of the spine is crucial when determining the source of spine pain.
Your “backbone” is actually a column of about 24 rectangular bones in adults. The first seven starting at the base of the skull are called the cervical spine, the next twelve in the upper back form the thoracic spine, and the last five make up the lumbar spine.
The vertebrae of the spine lock together for support through pairs of facet joints. They work like hinges to allow spinal movement while providing support to make sure the vertebrae do not shift.
Between each pair of vertebrae sits a disc. Firm on the outside and gelatinous on the inside (almost like a jelly donut), intervertebral discs protect the vertebrae by absorbing the daily shocks to the spine.
Spinal Cord and Nerves
While the other parts of the spine provide structure and support, perhaps their most important function is to protect the central nervous system. The spinal cord runs from the brain down the back and serves as a transportation hub for neural messages throughout the body.
Common Causes of Spine Pain
While our chiropractors are here for general pain, we know that the true causes of spine pain are many. Here are just a few:
The two most common disc problems that lead to spine pain are bulging and herniated discs. When an intervertebral disc is pressed unduly, the edges of the disc are squeezed outward, either uniformly or predominantly on one side. If the disc subsequently presses on the spinal cord, it causes spine pain or numbness. This is known as a bulging or ruptured disc.
A herniated disc is similar but occurs when the outer shell of a disc is torn and some of the soft inner cartilage is pushed out. Because the pressure on the spinal cord is usually more concentrated, spine pain caused by a herniated disc is often worse than a bulging disc. Spinal decompression through traction is instrumental in finding relief from spine pain caused by disc problems.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease, not actually a disease at all, is another name for osteoarthritis. The condition involves the thinning of intervertebral discs often associated with age. Spine pain is often felt in the neck or back as the vertebrae press together. Spinal decompression can help provide relief from spine pain caused by DDD.
The spine has natural curves in each of its three sections. When someone tells you to sit up straight, it does not mean that your spine should be perfectly straight, which is actually impossible. However, while some curvature is natural, sometimes the spine’s curve can be too extreme or even follow an unusual shape. This is referred to as scoliosis.
The typical curvature of the spine runs back to front, in toward the throat and navel and out at the upper back. In cases of scoliosis, the spine has a side-to-side curvature. This can lead to uneven shoulders or a hunching posture or even spine pain in extreme cases. Most cases, however, are mild. Idiopathic scoliosis, in which the cause of scoliosis is unknown, is the most common form of adolescent scoliosis. Despite popular belief, scoliosis cannot be caused by bad posture or carrying a heavy backpack.
If scoliosis is treated early on, discomfort and spine pain further down the line can be avoided. Stretching exercises can strengthen the spine and the muscles around it to properly support it, and spinal manipulation can adjust the spine toward its correct position. Bracing is also an available method to correct more severe scoliosis.