Understanding Spine and Posture Health in Lakewood, CO
Like most parts of your body, your spine and posture can have normal or abnormal measurements. Similar to your blood pressure and body temperature, your spinal structure can be measured with normal and abnormal values.
A normal, healthy spine serves two distinct functions, including:
- Provides protection for the spinal cord
- Provides structural support for your bony frame
You might think it’s easy to identify a “normal” spine. However, this isn’t always the case. Our spines are constantly affected by gravity, and it’s the spine’s job to learn to adapt to gravity while allowing for a balance between support and flexibility. Various authors have attempted to identify a normal spinal model, although the specific characteristics of these models can vary widely.
Viewed from the back, the spine looks vertically straight from your neck to your tailbone. However, when viewing the spinal column from the side, you’ll see that there are normal curves within the spine. When spinal curves are abnormal, it could indicate a serious medical issue. In other cases, however, the curves in your spine are normal and healthy.
Normal Spine Anatomy
A normal spine is divided into four major sections. Each section is defined based on the number of vertebrae (the round bones that make up the structure of your back). The four sections include:
Cervical Spine (Neck): Comprised of 7 cervical vertebrae, starting from C1 and going to C7. Problems in the cervical spine can cause neck pain or pain that radiates down your arms to the hands and fingers.
Thoracic Spine (Upper Back): Comprised of 12 thoracic vertebrae from T1 to T12. These vertebrae are attached to the rib bones and the sternum. This part of the spine is relatively stable and has fewer problems than other parts of the spine – particularly problems related to motion.
Lumbar Spine (Lower Back): Comprised of 5 vertebrae from L1 to L5. This part of the spine has a great deal of motion and flexibility. The lumbar spine also bears most of the body’s weight and allows for the most motion. That’s why this part of the spine is associated with more back problems than any other part of the spine. Problems in the lumbar spine can radiate into your legs and feet.
Sacral Region (Lower Spine): Comprised of 5 bony segments fused together, the sacral region is located below the lumbar spine. The bony fragments are labeled from S1 to S5. A triangle-shaped bone serves as the base of the spine and makes up part of the pelvis. The area where your lumbar spine meets your sacral region, L5-S1, is an area that is prone to degeneration, and degeneration can lead to back problems.
Abnormal Curves in the Spinal Column
Lordosis: Lordosis is defined by an excessive inward curve of the spine. It primarily affects the lumbar (in the lower part of your spinal column), but it can occur in the neck as well. Patients with severe lumbar lordosis may appear “swayback” with more prominent buttocks and an exaggerated posture. Lordosis affects people of all ages. When it affects the lower back, it can cause back pain that makes movements painful and difficult. Conditions like osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis, and even obesity can lead to lordosis.
KyphosisKyphosis is defined by an excessive outward curve in the spine. It may appear as a deformity like a “humpback” or “hunchback”. Abnormal kyphosis is typically found in the thoracic spine (the mid-to-lower part of your spine), although like lordosis, it can also affect the neck. Patients who have severe kyphosis may appear to have a “pitched forward” appearance. There are two types of kyphosis, including poor posture kyphosis and structural kyphosis.
Scoliosis: Scoliosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine to the left or right side. Scoliosis typically affects the thoracic spine in children, although it can also be found in adults.
For a free consultation on normal versus abnormal spine health, come into Lakewood, Colorado’s Renew Chiropractic for a free consultation. Call 720-493-5885 to speak with one of our friendly chiropractic care professionals.