What is the Spine?
When one mentions or describes chiropractic health, the spine will always be mentioned. But what exactly is the spine and what is its purpose?
The spine (also referred to as the “backbone”) is our body’s support structure, which allows us to stand upright and move freely and be flexible. It is made up of 33 vertebrae (small bones) stacked on top of each other. (Adults will likely have 26 vertebrae as some bones fuse together through time). Between the bones are gel-like discs made of cartilage meant to protect from the bones rubbing or crashing against each other while muscles and ligaments are what connect the spine. The length of the spine depends on the height of the individual and runs from the base of the skull to the pelvis.
The spinal column also plays the vital role of protecting the spinal cord– the bundle of nerves whose function is to send messages from the brain to the body and vice versa. Thus, a properly functioning spinal cord controls one’s heart rate, body temperature, breathing, feeling hot or cold, and other important bodily functions. Needless to say, the spinal cord is a crucial part of our central nervous system.
If you look at an actual spine, you’ll notice it is curved. These c-shaped curves form three major sections of the spine–cervical spine, lumbar spine and thoracic spine. All together they give the spine’s S-shape you’ve come to recognize.
An unhealthy or injured spine can result in pain and/or decreased range of motion, making everyday activities like walking, bending over, or even sitting up straight, difficult. Injury to the spinal cord itself can have large repercussions such as losing the ability to feel. It is important keep your spine healthy throughout life. Here is a great article providing practical tips to keep your spine healthy and happy. And of course, be sure to see a trusted chiropractor near you to get an expert examination of your spinal health!