About the Spine: The Spine’s Structural Characteristics
Updated: Feb 27
Located in the center of the body, the spine takes on the role of holding the body upright and distributing forces caused by impact. The spine is composed of 7 neck bones (cervical vertebrae), 12 upper back bones (thoracic vertebrae), 5 low back bones (lumbar vertebrae), 5 rump bones (sacral vertebrae), and 4 tail bones (coccygeal vertebrae). In each vertebrae the fasciculus, or bundle of nerves, passes through like an electric cord, better known as the spinal cord. The spinal cord connects the central nervous system with the peripheral nervous system, and in doing so, it helps distribute all the commands the brain sends out to the various parts of our body.
The spine is designed to protect the spinal cord like armor, and between each vertebrae, spinal nerves branch out from the spinal cord. Out of the 31 pairs of spinal nerves (62 in total), most of the nerves coming out of the cervical vertebrae control the upper limbs (arms and hands) and surrounding facial features. The nerves from the thoracic vertebrae control the torso, while those from the lumbar and sacral vertebrae control the lower limbs and surrounding abdominal regions. In other words, the countless commands sent from the brain travel down the spinal cord to be distributed to each of the corresponding areas. Like a speaker, in which a complex array of electric lines are connected to an amplifier in order to make an accurate sound, spinal nerves also ensure precise commands are sent to the correct areas so that the body can carry out daily activities without problems
But what would happen if some sort of pressure or blockage occurs on the nerve tissue? When the corresponding regions do not receive accurate commands, the body would experience a decline in normal functions such as decline in mobility, increase of pain, and series of dysfunction in internal organs. Consequentially, the quality of life would also decline. We may ask, “Does this blocking condition actually happen?” The answer is that it certainly happens, and the reason is because of the structural formation of the spine.
Structurally the spine is like a brick building with each brick laid on top of another. Even for a well-built brick tower, if impacted by an external force or one of the bricks falls out of place, the stability of the brick tower becomes noticeably unstable and in the end, can fall down. In the same way, impact by a strong external force (accidents, sports injury, falls etc.) or even repetitive or irregular motion from daily activity, the spine may slowly fall out of its correct position. Symptoms or pain may not show initially as nerves may only be slightly pinched coming out of the spinal joint, but extreme misalignment can damage the surrounding tissue (disc, muscle or ligament) which can cause extreme pain and restrict movement.
The side effects of slight misalignment of the spinal bone are not limited to just pain. Over time, it can cause disruption in the chain of command coming from the brain, and the symptoms may not show up around the spine but in specific organs (digestive or circulatory) or disability in limbs (limited movement or pain). Many patients focus on the symptoms alone, and they do not think of the misalignment in the spine as being the original problem. Thus, the original cause is often missed. With Gonstead Chiropractic, the misalignment of the spine is scientifically analyzed and accurately diagnosed, and the misaligned spinal bone is adjusted. The shortcut to good health is prevention through healthy daily habits and prior diagnosis before the pain starts.