When you’re healthy and your body is functioning properly, you can bend forward, twist, bend to each side, and even bend backwards, at least a little. The range of motion your spine allows is astonishing when you think about it. But, it’s also a somewhat delicate structure and is prone to injury.
At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates in Independence, Ohio, our providers understand how difficult life can become when you have a back injury or when you have chronic pain. Even the simplest of tasks require a great deal of energy. Whether you have spinal stenosis, or you need spinal surgery, we know the toll that problems with your spine can take on your life.
Understanding how your spine functions and why it’s particularly vulnerable to injury may help you protect yourself. In this post, we discuss the anatomy of your spine, and why it’s both an asset and a vulnerability.
The parts of your spine
Your movable spine is made up of three sections, the cervical spine, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine. Your cervical spine is your neck and has seven vertebrae, the thoracic spine is the middle section and the longest with 12 vertebrae, and your lumbar spine is your lower back and has five vertebrae.
The movable vertebrae are connected by very small joints called facet joints, and there’s a disc -- a small sac filled with jelly-like tissue -- between each pair. The entire structure is hollow in the middle to allow for your spinal cord to pass through, carrying messages to and from your body and brain. Along with all of those parts, your spine is supported by ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
The small bones and facet joints provide the range of motion you enjoy and the discs provide cushioning to prevent pain. The nerves of the spinal cord give you sensation throughout your body, and all of the other soft tissues provide strength, flexibility, and support. Your spine is complex and amazing!
A fragile structure
When you compare your spine to a bone like your femur or a joint like your knee, you can easily see that your spine is quite fragile. There are so many parts and so much mobility, which means there are many things that can go wrong. You can have a problem with a facet joint, a disc, a vertebra, or with the soft tissues supporting your spine.
Moreover, any of those issues can cause swelling and inflammation that compresses the column that houses your spinal cord. Pressure on the nerves of your spinal cord can cause numbness, tingling, or pain in other parts of your body. And if you have a spinal cord injury, you may suffer paralysis.
Common spine problems
Strains and sprains are common causes of back pain, along with bulging or ruptured discs, arthritis in your facet joints, or a narrowing of your spinal column called spinal stenosis. The most common cause of spinal injuries are auto accidents, but falls, sports injuries, and work-related injuries are also frequent causes.
Treating spine problems
Because your spine is such a complicated and fragile structure, and there are so many ways it can be injured, your treatment must be carefully tailored to your situation. The treatment for a bulging disc and the treatment for a strained ligament are not the same. Furthermore, your overall health and any underlying issues must be taken into consideration in an effective treatment plan.
Our experts at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates are highly trained in treating spine issues. You can be certain that you’re receiving a diagnosis and treatment from an expert in our office. Whether you need surgery or rehabilitation, or you have no idea what you need, you can expect a clear explanation of your problem and your options in our office.
If you have back pain, schedule an appointment today. We’re happy to answer your questions and discuss your situation.