The Spine: A Primer

Daily Health Solutions, Healthy Living
on August 13, 2011
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The spine is a wonderful structure that allows a broad range of movement and gives strength and protection to the entire body. Of all injuries, the combined disorders of the back are possibly the most common. Injuries can occur through bad posture, improper lifting, excess weight or even certain diseases. Over time, the back can be exposed to a lot of aging and wear and tear, so it’s important to understand its significance. In addition, understanding the basics of the spine will help you see how the spine carries out its functions and how certain events may cause injury if extra care isn’t taken.

Function. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “[The spine] holds up your head, shoulders, and upper body. It gives you support to stand up straight, and gives you flexibility to bend and twist. It also protects your spinal cord.” In other words, the spine is possibly the most structurally significant part of your body. Any damage to the spinal nerve can result in pain and other symptoms throughout your body, and serious damage can lead to paralysis.

Sections. Essentially, the spine has three primary sections — the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine. The lumbar (low back) is the most common area for injuries, while the cervical spine (shoulders and neck) is the next most vulnerable part. The entire spine is made up of small bones (vertebrae), each cushioned with a gel-like disk that keeps them separated and allows for painless flexibility. A cavity inside these vertebrae creates a protected area for the spinal cord and spinal nerves.

Health. For good back health, it is absolutely essential to maintain a healthy weight, keep a good posture and adopt safe habits for lifting and movement. Good posture is defined as a position that keeps a natural curve in each of the three sections of the spine, allowing them to give the maximum amount of support and flexibility without adding extra strain on the intervertebral disks.