mardi 28 février 2017

Your Back and Chiropractic

The spine, also called the dorsum, is the central structure of the body: a bony structure extending from the base of the skull to the pelvis. It is of crucial importance for the optimal functioning of our body: its role is to protect the spinal cord, to support the head and torso and to participate in almost all movements and limbs.*

The spine contains 33 superimposed vertebrae*:

  • 7 cervical vertebrae:
    • The cervical vertebrae are in the neck, support the skull and allow the head to turn and to nod. These are the most mobile vertebrae.
  • 12 thoracic vertebrae (also called dorsal vertebrae):
    • The thoracic vertebrae are from the upper back to the middle of the back. Each is connected to a rib, which form the rib cage and protect the heart, lungs and liver.
  • 5 lumbar vertebrae:
    • The lumbar vertebrae are located at the lower back. They are the most robust vertebrae and support the weight of the upper body, while allowing a flexible link between the upper and lower body.
  • 5 sacral vertebrae:
    • The sacral vertebrae are welded and form the sacrum. They are located at the bottom of the spine and connect the two iliac bones with which they constitute the pelvis. The shape of the sacrum differs.
  • 3 to 5 (usually 4) coccygeal vertebrae:
    • The coccygeal vertebrae are welded or partially mobile and form the coccyx. The coccyx is the vestige of a tail possessed by our ancestors.

The vertebrae are found at the facet joints, which are small joints that connect the vertebrae, stabilize the spine and facilitate movement. Between the vertebrae are the intervertebral discs composed of cartilage: their function is to absorb or dampen the shocks and pressures associated with movements or forces. Muscles surround the vertebral joints and contribute to the stabilization and mobilization of the torso. The ligaments connect the bones to the joints and allow lateral movements.

The vertebrae have an orifice in their center, which forms the spinal canal. The spinal canal surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve fibers, which belongs to the central nervous system and connects the network of peripheral nerves to the brain. The nerves emerge in pairs on either side of the spinal cord through orifices between the vertebrae and the facet joints. Nerves control all movements, sensations and vital functions of the body, transmitting nerve impulses, the electrical current that travels through the nervous tissues and sends commands to your brain. The nerves are composed of nerve fibers: the sensory fibers, which send messages of sensations like pain or cold temperatures, and the motor fibers, which send signals relating to the movements between the brain and the muscles.*

For example, to bend the arm, the biceps muscle must be contracted: the brain sends a message to the biceps via impulses from the nerves, which causes the muscle fibers to contract and bring the forearm upwards.

Chiropractic comes into play when there is a malfunctioning of the spine or joints, which creates effects on the nervous system. For example, when you experience low back pain, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, or herniated discs, chiropractic can help. Your chiropractor makes chiropractic adjustments, a specialized form of joint manipulations, as well as other manual therapies that will relieve your symptoms, prevent their occurrence and avoid pain.

Your back is complex so treat it carefully! Discover what our chiropractors can do for you:! 

*Reference: Prévenir et soigner le mal de dos. British Medical Association. Éditions Broquet. 2014.

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