Normal Structure

Got Curves?

Normal StructureDid you know your spine has a number of curves when viewed from the side? These curves, according to engineering principles, help the spine protect itself from compressive loads. As your spine shifts away from what is considered normal (measurements derived from chiropractic, medical, surgical, physical therapy texts and journals) it causes abnormal loading of your spine. It is a similar concept to the normal range of blood pressure in your body. As you get farther away from normal blood pressure (120/80 mmHg), you may have issues that require an intervention such as modifying your diet or taking prescribed medications. With respect to you spine, as it shifts farther away from normal it will lead to arthritis, muscle spasm, pain and more. It even puts your spinal cord and nerves under neurological degenerative strain which can unfortunately obstruct the electrical wiring of the body. What is normal and why haven’t you heard this before?

What’s Normal

A normal spine has a number of curves that bend in opposite ways. The cervical spine and lumbar spine are concave toward your back, while your thoracic spine and sacrum are concave toward the front of your body. When they are within range of the normal accepted angles, the load is placed appropriately on the spine. This means stress and strain will be absorbed properly and the spine will function as it should. If, for example, your cervical spine (neck) shifts away from normal it can put additional stress on the vertebral bodies. Sandwiched between these vertebral bodies – like hamburger meat in between 2 buns – are your vertebral discs. As the stress shifts onto the vertebral bodies it can squeeze the discs and can contribute to bulging and eventually a herniated disc. This is a painful ordeal that can cause pain and affect your nervous system. Many, if not most of the cases of disc herniation, appear to be the result of these abnormal loads. It is not crazy to think the disc issue plaguing many in the country can be corrected by working on normal spinal alignment.

Why You Haven’t Heard About This Before

It appears to be a relatively new phenomenon in the research world. The past decade has seen a tremendous influx of papers from all types of journals on this topic. For the longest time people believed that the spine could essentially take on any form it wanted and that was normal. However, with advances in technology such as functional MRI and 3d CT scans, we can see this is not the case. Because of this, there are now standards for the angles of certain aspects of the spine. Isn’t it cool to think you can have someone measure these angles via x-ray, posture grid analysis, and other means to determine if your spine is within normal limits? It used to be a guessing game but with the advent of new viewing technology it is becoming much more objective.

As I mentioned previously, the research is beginning to pour in. Soon our society may look at the spine the same way that we evaluate normal body temperature, vision, or blood pressure. The understanding of normal will continue to evolve and practitioners who stay on top of this will be armed with the appropriate tools to address abnormal spinal alignment. Fortunately, there are already some very good ways to address this. Chiropractors who focus on Structural Correction are typically a very good source of information on this topic. Don’t take your spinal health for granted – see how you compare to normal.