Vocation is the spine of life - Friedrich Nietzsche
When people who haven’t been treated for chronic back pain think about their spines, they often envision one continuous structure that vertically extends from their neck to the tailbone. While it is true that the spine covers quite a bit of real estate in our body, it is definitely an intricate, amazingly complex grouping of several structures. I don’t want to bore anyone with numbers here or to provide an anatomy lesson, but I think some understanding can go a long way – especially if you’re suffering from back pain and looking for answers.
As an adult, your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, which are bones stacked atop each other to form the entire spinal column. Vertebrae are the protective framework through which your spinal cord passes. The spinal cord itself is the “superhighway” of nerves that carry your brain signals to the rest of your body, allowing you to move your arms and legs. Separating your vertebrae are these soft, spongy “shock absorber” structures called intervertebral discs. They help keep your vertebrae a healthy distance apart so that you can move well. If that intricate design wasn’t cool enough, you should also know that there are more than 120 large and small muscles around the spine and the spinal column itself has multiple ligaments.
So what’s the point? I have two. First, because your spine is such a complicated and incredible network of bones, discs, muscles, nerves and ligaments, getting to the bottom of exactly what’s wrong when your back hurts can also be a complicated process. With the proper testing, sometimes that problem is obvious. Other times, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I’ve written a lot about this here.
My second point has to do with time. Time can be a tricky gauge when you’re suffering from back pain. On one hand, when its stiffness and muscle stress that happens every now and then, time can often be the best medicine to cure it. But when we’re talking about chronic back pain – pain (even if it isn’t severe) that has lasted for more than three months, waiting to have it evaluated can be harmful. Think of all those complex structures in your spine as a row of dominos. Yes, it’s a really strong row. But when one domino falls, it puts pressure on all the other dominos around it to work harder. With respect to how amazingly resilient your spine is, it usually will work harder to support the failing structure – but for how long is the question. Over time, the domino effect of chronic back pain that has gone untreated by a highly qualified spine specialist will eventually cause failure of other structures around it. There’s no telling how long it will hold up, but it’s fairly certain that it won’t be forever.
Your spine is strong. It was designed to support your entire body weight and the additional weight of loads that you carry. It deserves care and respect. But it isn’t titanium. It can get injured. And when it does, making sure that you pay close attention to it will be a safeguard that it continues working well for as long as you both shall live.
Source: Neel Anand MD, Get to Know Your Back, SpineUniverse, August 22, 2014.
Whether it’s the spine, the heart, the brain, or the digestive system, we absolutely are what we eat. But the great news is that small dietary changes you make today can add up to loads of bone protection later – especially when it comes to the waist line. Obesity is on the rise in our country and so too is back pain.
A Gyrotonics machine has straps and pulleys to help the joints move through their natural range of motion.
Countering the claim that texting is ruining spines.
A professor of physical therapy offers advice for desk-bound workers and people on long car trips.
Many of us have been told to stand up straight. However, there is nothing straight about the spine. When you look at the spine in profile, it has curves.
A new study suggests that looking down at a cell phone is the equivalent of placing a 60-pound weight on one's neck.
While it is true that the spine covers quite a bit of real estate in our body, it is definitely an intricate, amazingly complex grouping of several structures.
World Spine Care is a global charity on a mission to improve lives in under-served communities. We aim to create a world in which everyone has access to the highest quality spine care possible.
The National Spine Health Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving spinal health care through education, research, and patient advocacy. We educate Americans about the treatment and prevention of neck and back disorders. We prove what works, drive innovation, and support patients on their journey to spinal health.
Our goal is to provide you with a comprehensive, highly informative and useful resource for understanding, preventing, and seeking appropriate treatment for back and neck pain and related conditions.
This site has been developed by a multi-specialty group of medical professionals.
SpineUniverse (part of the Vertical Health family of websites) is a leader in patient and healthcare professional education, providing clear, straightforward information on conditions related to the spine, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and scoliosis. We are committed to presenting trustworthy, high-quality information.
United Spinal Association is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, and providing support and information to loved ones, care providers and professionals.
The aims of WSD:
1.Raise awareness about spinal health and spine disorders to individuals, communities, professionals and all stakeholders associated with spine care;
2.To provide a forum for ongoing discussion about the burden of spinal disorders and the sharing of best practices; and
3.To promote an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to easing the burden of spinal disorders.
BackCares aims to significantly reduce the burden of back pain by providing information and advice to all people and organisations affected by back pain. We fund scientific research into the causes, prevention and management of back pain.
We call for explicit plans by governments, health policy makers at regional level and the WHO to deal with the large and growing burden of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries on individuals and society.
The Disc Institute was created for you. If you want a way to honor and respect your God-given disc and what makes it self-repair...
The United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) is the U.S. National Action Network of the Global Bone and Joint Decade, a multi-disciplinary initiative targeting the care of people with musculoskeletal conditions— bone and joint disorders.