Everything in your body can be associated and related to your back. Since the spinal column, nerves that stem from the back and each vertebra are so intertwined with nearly every function in the body, chronic back pain can have a profound effect on everything.
The spine consists of strong bones, flexible ligaments and tendons, large muscles and highly sensitive nerves. It’s core purpose is to keep the rest of your body in motion. That’s a tall task for one area of your body, and when one thing goes wrong within this spinal structure, it truly affects absolutely everything.
Understanding back pain involves understanding the anatomy of the spine. There are for major regions of your back; the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, the lumbar spine, and the sacral region of the spine. Basically, that’s top of the neck to the back part of the pelvis.
This portion of the spine supports the weight of the head and protects the nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body through the spinal column. The cervical spine can easily be affected by injury, car accidents that cause whiplash, or a straining of the neck. Even stress and bad posture can injure this area.
Pain that lasts for only a few days is usually just a muscle, ligament or tendon strain and can be treated with ice and/or heat, medication, and/or a chiropractor’s assistance. For pain that lasts longer than a few weeks, causes might be far worse such as herniated disks, pinched nerves or a misalignment.
The thoracic spine is connected to the rib cage, and provides stability and structural support to the upper back. Its motion is limited as its ultimate purpose is to protect the vital organs of the heart and lungs. Being that this area of the back was not designed for a lot of motion, it does not get injured that often.
The lumbar spine is the lower portion of the back, and the portion that consists of the most motion and thus the most injuries. It carries the weight of the torso, and thus many lifting injuries occur in this area. The lumbar spine is also the most common area to break down from years of wear and tear from heavy lifting or improper use of back muscles.
While herniated disks are common in this area of the back, muscle and tendon strains are seen very often and, though they can cause a great deal of pain, should heal fairly rapidly due to the soft tissues that carry a great deal of blood supply. Sciatica is also another common condition in the lumbar spine.
Lastly, the sacral region of the back is the very bottom of the spine; the back part of the pelvis. This area of the back is subjected to a large amount of stress for the same reasons as the lumbar spine. Twisting during certain activities and heavy lifting can create problems over time.
The anatomy of the human back is incredibly complex and remarkable. It’s important to note that an injury in one area of the back, because of it’s complexity and relation to the rest of the body, might not create pain in the injured area but might transfer pain to other areas, even disrupt the body’s normal function.
For example, an injury or misalignment in the area of the cervical spine can cause headaches and TMJ-type symptoms, even as the injury is located in the spine and not the jaw. An injury in the sacral region can cause pain in the legs, feet and hips, even though the damaged area is located in the lower spine.
If you have been feeling unexplained pain, lower back pain or chronic headaches, the culprit could be in the spine. Call us to find out more information!