We don’t think about our spinal column all that often. It’s like the hanger holding our clothes or a Christmas tree without decorations: there to hold us up and keep us moving but not terribly interesting, maybe even taken for granted, until there’s a problem. The last week of May is National Spinal Health Week and a great time to think about keeping your spine strong, supported, and healthy so you can live with pain-free mobility for years to come.
Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic explain that “A healthy spine has three natural curves that make an S-shape. These curves absorb shocks to your body and protect your spine from injury.” This includes 33 vertebrae around the spinal cord itself, facet joints which allow for twisting and turning, and intervertebral disks that act as internal shock absorbers. Holding the vertebrae to the spine are ligaments and tendons. The cord itself “extends from the skull to the lower back. Thirty-one pairs of nerves branch out through vertebral openings (the neural foramen). These nerves carry messages between the brain and muscles.”
There are five main sections of a human spine. This includes the cervical (neck), thoracic (middle back), lumbar (lower back), sacrum (pelvis/hips), and coccyx (tailbone). Cleveland Clinic physicians report that “up to 80% of Americans experience back pain at some point” whether from age related deterioration, illness, or injury.
While some common spinal pain is simply a result of age, others come from overuse—like sprains and strains—or injuries. Common issues include osteoporosis, scoliosis, sciatica, herniated disks, and bone spurs. If you’ve had issues with your spine and back, a skilled chiropractor like Dr. Chani Henderson may be able to help. A competitive gymnast for many years, Dr. Henderson is still active in outdoor pursuits like surfing, snowboarding, skiing, hiking, and camping. She understands the toll sports (and just life in general!) can take on our bodies. She works with patients on spinal health issues every day.
Exercise and good posture are easy ways to help prevent some back problems before they start. Maintaining a strong core of abdominal, side, and back muscles through stretching and focused workouts, staying at a healthy weight, and bending your knees instead of your back when lifting are all excellent. The Mayo Clinic even offers a slideshow of back exercises in 15 minutes a day to get started.
If you need professional help, chiropractic care is ideal for many cases.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says that “Chiropractors often treat problems related to the musculoskeletal system. The manual treatment methods used by chiropractors range from stretching and sustained pressure to specific joint manipulations, which are usually delivered by hand and involve a quick and gentle thrust. The purpose of the manipulations is to improve joint motion and function. Manipulations are most commonly done on the spine, but other parts of the body may also be treated.”
NCCIH doctors explain that “Among U.S. adults who used chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, about 67 percent used it to treat a specific health condition, and 53 percent used it for wellness…Previous research found that people report positive experiences and reduced pain as a result of receiving spinal manipulation.”
Chiropractic care as preventative maintenance
And this care even has preventative outcomes. “Results of a new study suggest that older adults’ access to chiropractic care may reduce medical spending on services for spine conditions,” says an NCCIH report, “This, they say, is among the first evidence to suggest a potential reduction in medical service use due to a health service that operates primarily outside of traditional pathways of care. The cumulative effect could be quite large given the prevalence of spine conditions among older adults.”
Dr. Henderson and her colleagues have patients seeking chiropractic relief for arthritis, headaches, whiplash, neck and joint pain, and stiffness. It helps without the use of medication and is non-invasive. By working to realign the spinal area, pressure is relieved, and pain reduced.
Chances are, you or someone you love has experienced back or spinal pain. This National Spinal Health Week, take a break and take stock of your aches and pains. Those that can’t be written off to bumps, bruises, too much exercise, or overdoing it on yardwork are a good place to start. If they limit daily activities or just aren’t getting better with time and R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) give Dr. Henderson a call today. She’ll walk you through your medical history, current conditions, and physical goals to put you back on the road to 100%.