STAPLETON: Here’s what your back is like

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By Dr. James Stapleton

The human back and spine comprise a complex system that impacts your entire body. Keeping your spine in proper alignment, which is the specialty of the Doctor of Chiropractic, is essential to the smooth functioning of your other parts.

The spinal column is the main pillar of the back. It is made up of more than 30 individual bones, collectively called the vertebrae, separated by spongy pads of cartilage called discs. The spinal cord runs from the bottom of the brain through holes in the vertebrae. The spinal cord sends signals to the body through nerves that emerge between the vertebrae.

The spine is divided into four regions: The upper part, the neck, is called the cervical. The upper back is called the thoracic. The lower part of the back is the lumbar. It leads into the sacrum, the lower part of the spine, and the coccyx, the tailbone.

It is the lumbar region where most back pain develops. The spinal cord actually ends just below the rib cage. From there, nerves to the lower back and legs grow through the spinal column before exiting. The bundle of nerves looks like a horse’s tail, hence its Latin name: cauda equina.    


Slipped disc treatment

A slipped disc is a painful condition involving one or more of the 23 discs that cushion the bones of the spine. As with other causes of back pain, it is often incorrectly assumed that surgery is the only logical treatment.

The truth is many of these injuries do not require surgery. The pain from the vast majority of disc injuries can be eliminated or greatly eased with chiropractic treatment.

That treatment may include steps as simple as ice application to reduce pain and inflammation, to more complex steps like flexing therapy to improve mobility and spinal adjustments to restore joint mobility.

The treatment may also include electrical therapy to decrease pain and establishment of an overall exercise regimen to improve flexibility and strength. The chiropractor may also give you advice on posture and movement to prevent aggravation of the condition.

In extreme cases, where neurosurgical treatment may be the required course of treatment, you chiropractor will help you with a referral. But remember, check all your options for treatment with health professionals before electing any sort of surgery.


Dr. James Stapleton is an owner of Shelby County Chiropractic. You may reach him at 633-1073 or visit www.shelbycountychiropractic.com.