Learning Spine Anatomy To Keep Your Back Healthy

While nobody wants back pain, few people know anything about their spine anatomy. Curing back pain is great. Learning how the spinal column is constructed will help you prevent injury and subsequent pain. For most people that would be the most desirable conclusion.

Well known associations and organizations tell us how and why to take care of our bodies. While that’s valuble, there is little to refer to for back care and pain prevention. We are inundated with information and advice on weight loss, relief from addiction, heart care. From that and the lack of back care info, you would think it will always take care of itself. Not true.

Every move we make from our toes to our ears is affected by our spinal column. Whether it is just shifting positions or performing an athletic maneuver, it depends on a healthy spine. Those who are back pain sufferers can attest to the hindrance it is to every facet of their lives.

The spinal column is made up of nerves, bone, cartilage, fluid and other elements. All of it works together to ensure our entire body, from head to toe can work efficiently and correctly. Our spine anatomy enables us to sit, stand, stretch, lie down, lift, walk and play. The role it plays throughout our body is remarkable in it’s extent.

The spine starts at the top with the cervical area which is the neck. From there it extends downward thorugh the lumbar or lower back region. The spine is constructed of thirty three vertebrae that get larger as they descend downward to the tailbone. The most common sources of pain are in the spinal column in the neck and lower back.spinal column numbered discs

The amazing durability and function of the spinal column is illustrated by just walking. In an upright position, moving, the spinal column bends, sways, compresses, relaxes and supports the entire skeletal system. It’s not surprising that the source of the most common pain comes from the lumbar region. This is the base of the spinal column that takes the full amount of weight from the upper body.

The Purpose Of Spinal Curves In Normal Body Function

The spine is not solid or rigid, but a naturally bending, curving column of separate bones. These bones, the vertebrae, are separated and cushioned by discs that are filled with gel. These discs pad the spine, allow fluid movement, and prevent bone on bone injury. Placing more pressure on them than they can take will cause the discs to bulge. The bulging can cause anything from discomfort to severe pain.

Vertebrae: The Structural Framework Of The Spinal Column

With Billions of spinal nerve cells in the cord, the vertebrae serve to protect them. The spinal vertebrae are short, spool shaped bones that are connected top to bottom.

The final elements of the spinal cord anatomy are the rounded, bony “knobs” on the vertebrae. These  make up the sometimes visible arch of the spine. These bony projections support and protect the spine. The joints made between the vertebrae shape are sized to ensure the spinal cord does not bend to far or incorrectly.

spinal cord tracksThe Role Ligaments Play In The Spine Column Stability

Ligaments work the same way in the spine as between all other bones. They serve as rubber bands holding the vertebrae together and attach muscle to bone. They are literally the structural “glue” that holds and provides flexibility for the skeletal system.

Ligaments in the back that become injured can often be mistaken for a bulging disc. The pain can become so severe it is debilitating.

Muscles That Support The Spine

Supporting muscles of the spine are the flexors and paraspinal. Flexors support the spine and enable lifting and flexing, while also allowing recovery. Paraspinal run parallel to the spine for it’s entire length. It keeps it in the upright position and allows it to rotate. The paraspinal only allows a limited range of motion which prevents injury.

Here again, injury symptoms of the flexors often mimic the symptoms of a bulging or herniated disc. While those disc injuries are common, many times they are assumed when it is actually muscles in the back that are injured or strained.

Nerves, The Delicate Sensors Of The Spine Cord

With the nerves being the most sensitive and delicate elements of the spine, they are the source of pain in any back injury. When bones, ligaments, muscles or tendons are injured, the surrounding nerves are affected.

Under normal conditions the nerves tapping the spinal cord would cause significant damage to them. But the spinal discs serve to protect the cord even though it runs the entire length of the spine.
In general, even the most delicate and vulnerable nerves are kept comfortable and uninjured.

Value Of Knowledge Of Spinal Anatomy

This is a basic understanding of the structure and function of the spine. It is designed to help you understand and prevent painful spine related conditions. When spinal pain is experienced this understanding will often help people resolve it themselves without extensive medical treatment.

As with other pages on this site, none of this is intended to be used as diagnostic. No action should be taken from the information on this website or any other without a comprehensive consultation with your physician.