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What You Should Know About The Anatomy Of The Spine To Avoid Potential Injury

The key supporter of your body is your spine, which is made up of more than 30 separate vertebrae and is in charge of your twisting, bending and standing. These bony vertebrae envelop and shield the spinal cord, which leads to strong bones and muscles. But, any strain, disease or injury in the spine can cause inflammation, pain and restrict movement.

How The Spines Natural Curves Work

From infancy to adulthood, the spine is developing, going from a C-shape to an S-shape. The S-shape is natural for two-legged walking. The spine’s natural curves works in many ways:

  • Permits range of motion
  • Helps keep the body balanced
  • Absorbs shock
  • Mitigates movement impacts

There are there key spine curves:

  • Lumbar curve (lower back) - 5
  • Thoracic curve (upper back) - 12
  • Cervical curve (neck area) - 7

There are also five sacral and four coccygeal vertebrae, which is under the lumber area.

In order to ensure proper spinal alignment and posture, you must have good muscle tone. Effort must be made into keeping this posture – usually through standing, lying down, sitting and walking. This ensures a minute amount of strain is put on the spine, ligaments and muscles.

24 vertebrae are moveable, softened by intervertebral discs that resemble coiled springs. These discs are filled with fluid, and as people get older, they become brittle. This brittleness can cause a decrease in height. A common age-related condition called osteoporosis, along with strain and injury, will cause these discs to herniate and bulge, resulting in back pain.

What Happens When There Is Damage To The Spinal Cord

If the spinal cord becomes damaged, it results in loss of motor function and numbness. An injury to the cervical region can result in tetraplegia. An injury to the lumbar or thoracic region could cause people to lose the use of their trunk and legs (paraplegic).

There are many spinal disorders that people can suffer with:

Lordosis – sway back, which happens when the lumbar spine has an abnormal forward curvature.
Kyphosis – hunchback, which occurs when there is an abnormal curvature in the thoracic curve.
Scoliosis – this happens when the spine has a side-to-side curvature to it.

When there is a 20 percent or less curvature in the spine, there tends to be no medical or health problems. Moderate curvatures will need treatment since they can tremendously limit the amount of physical activity.

Physical therapy is usually the preferred non-surgical or medication method to treating spinal problems. If you believe you’ve got any of the above conditions, be sure you contact your physical therapist and get treatment for it. For more information about physical therapy visit Bethesda Metro Physical Therapy.

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Bethesda Metro Physical Therapy
6931 Arlington Road Suite T200A
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 907-2659


"After several weeks of therapy I no longer have the knee pain and can now tie my shoes while kneeling, something I hadn't been able to do in quite awhile."

- Catherine

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"I been coming here for 8 weeks now and sense the first therapy I feel less pain. They all work really hard at this office. With their help I know I will be the best I can be at the end. I recommend them!"

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Physical Therapy Bethesda MD Office Bethesda Metro Physical Therapy logo for footer

6931 Arlington Road Suite T200A

Bethesda, MD 20814