Understanding the spine is the key to understanding why chiropractic doctors do what they do and why they obtain extraordinary results with a variety of different conditions.
The spine is a complex structure containing a number of associated muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves which commonly become irritated and injured. Extended sitting, repetitive motions, bad postural habits, mental stress, lack of exercise and inadequate nutritional intake are just some of the everyday stresses which accumulate to produce devastating effects on the spinal components.
Doctors of chiropractic are the health care leaders in providing safe, fast and effective relief for most spinal problems.
The Spinal Column
The spinal or vertebral column is a collection of 24 vertebrae plus the sacral bone. These bones provide support and mobility for the torso while also protecting the nervous system.
There are 4 distinct and different regions of the spinal column - the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral regions. Each contains a different number of vertebrae which are structurally unique. These structural variations make certain regions of the spinal column more flexible while making other regions more stable and less susceptible to injury.
When viewed from the rear the spine normally appears vertically straight . When viewed from the side, however, 4 separate spinal curvatures should be present. Both the cervical and lumbar regions naturally have a "C" shaped curvature, while the thoracic and sacral regions possess a reversed "C" shaped curvature. The angles of these curves play a crucial role in minimizing spinal biomechanical stresses which lead to spinal pain and greatly accelerated spinal degenerative processes.
The chiropractic doctor is an expert in spinal evaluation and rehabilitation. He or she is trained to identify even the slightest spinal abnormalities. Eliminating pain, inflammation and biomechanical stresses while increasing overall health and quality of life is what chiropractic care is all about.
Doctors of chiropractic are the only health care professionals whose primary training centers around the detection, treatment, and rehabilitation of spinal column disorders.
The Spinal Vertebrae
The vertebrae are the small bones which the spinal column is comprised of. These individual functioning units are the basis of motion in the torso. They connect to and glide on each other by way of a spinal disc and 2 facet joints. Spinal muscles and ligaments attach to each vertebrae to permit movement.
Located in the rear of each vertebrae is a hollowed out portion called the spinal canal which encases the spinal cord as it descends from the brain, much like beads on a string. At each vertebral level, spinal "nerve roots" peel away from the spinal cord. Small openings formed by adjacent vertebrae provide a pathway for these delicate nerve roots to exit to the rest of the body. These openings are referred to as the intervertebral foramen or IVF and are a common location for nerve irritation.
When a vertebrae becomes misaligned or fixated in relation to neighboring vertebrae, chiropractors call it a vertebral subluxation. In addition to pain, reduced range of motion and muscle spasms, these subluxations may also produce nerve irritation and interference either by mechanical pressure or inflammatory biochemicals.
Doctors of chiropractic are the only health care professionals trained to detect and treat subtle vertebral abnormalities which occur in the spine.