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The Spine


The cervical spine (neck) 

"The neck supports the weight of the head and protects the nerves that come from the brain to the rest of the body. This section of the spine has seven vertebral bodies (bones) that get smaller as they get closer to the base of the skull. Most of the rotation of the cervical spine comes from the top two segments whereas most of the flexion/extension movement comes from C5-C6 and C6-C7 (each motion segment is named by the two vertebral bodies that are connected)." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"Acute neck pain is most often caused by a muscle, ligament or tendon strain (such as from a sudden force or straining the neck), and will usually heal with time and non-surgical treatments to alleviate the neck pain (such as ice and/or heat, medications, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, etc)." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"For patients with neck pain that lasts longer than two weeks to three months, or with mainly arm pain, numbness or tingling, there is often a specific anatomic problem. For example, pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers, is usually caused by a cervical herniated disc or foraminal stenosis pinching a nerve in the neck. Treatment options for neck pain will differ depending on the specific diagnosis." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

The thoracic spine (upper back) 
"The 12 vertebral bodies in the upper back make up the thoracic spine. The firm attachment of the rib cage at each level of the thoracic spine provides stability and structural support to the upper back and allows very little motion. The thoracic spine is basically a strong cage and it is designed to protect the vital organs of the heart and lungs." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"The upper back is not designed for motion, and subsequently, injuries to the thoracic spine are rare. However, irritation of the large back and shoulder muscles or joint dysfunction in the upper back can produce very noticeable back pain." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

The lumbar spine (lower back)
"The lower back has a lot more motion than the thoracic spine and also carries all the weight of the torso, making it the most frequently injured area of the spine." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"The vast majority of episodes of lower back pain are caused by muscle strain. Even though a muscle strain doesn't sound like a serious injury, trauma to the muscles and other soft tissues (ligaments, tendons) in the lower back can cause severe back pain. The good news is that soft tissues have a good blood supply, which brings nutrients to the injured area, facilitates the healing process and often provides effective relief of the back pain." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

The sacral region (bottom of the spine)
"Below the lumbar spine is a bone called the sacrum, which makes up the back part of the pelvis. This bone is shaped like a triangle that fits between the two halves of the pelvis, connecting the spine to the lower half of the body." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

"The sacrum is connected to part of the pelvis (the iliac bones) by the sacroiliac joints. Pain in the sacrum is often called sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and is more common in women than men. The coccyx - or the tailbone - is in the sacral region at the very bottom of the spine. Tailbone pain is called coccydynia, which is more common in women than men." (Dr. Ullrich, 2009)

© Eva Jane Gates, all rights reserved

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