The joints of vertebral column
The vertebral column is the central axis of the body, acting as a support. It is a kind of flexible and solid 'armor' to protect the delicate nerve structures from damage. The vertebral column consists of 33-34 odd, symmetrically constructed vertebrae. The following segments of the spine can be distinguished : cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacro-coccygeal spine. The thoracic vertebrae are larger and more strongly constructed than the cervical ones; the lumbar vertebrae are marked by a more massive construction and larger size than thoracic ones, whereas the sacral vertebrae are fused together to form one bone called the sacrum, whose major task is to carry the torso and the whole body weight.
Brief vertebra characteristics
- Cervical vertebrae - they are the smallest of all. Their construction is similar with the exception of the first two vertebrae and the last one (seventh). The first two are the most characteristic: levator and positioner. The levators - it is these vertebra that allow movements of the head - nodding. Positioners allow for negative movements of the head
- Thoracic vertebrae - they are larger and more strongly constructed than the neck. It should be noted that these vertebra have joint surfaces with which they connect with the ribs. This provides greater stability of the entire thoracic. Moreover, the vertebral bodies have a wedge shape, the lower they are, the greater it is. The front part is significantly lower than the back part which forms a natural curvature of the thoracic - kyphosis section. A very characteristic feature of these vertebra is the shape of the spinous process at the end, which is long, not split in two and directed downward. This is an important feature, thank to which the protuberances of the successive vertebra overlap like roof tiles.
- Lumbar - characterized by a more massive construction and a size larger than the chest. There is lack of articular surface for the attachment of ribs here. This part of the spine is considered the most exposed to overload, and thus - unfortunately most vulnerable to injuries, but more about that in a moment. The section consists solely of 5 vertebrae, which are join with the sacrum at the height of the buttocks. The shape of the diaphysis is kidney-shaped and the appendages are bent slightly backward
- Cross- they fuse into one sacrum, which fulfills the task of carrying the weight of the trunk. It is located between two pelvis bones - together they form the pelvis. 3-5 fused vertebra have a wedge shape directed downwards.
Regions of the vertebral column (pic.1):
- Cervical (a)
- Thoracic (b)
- Lumbar (c)
- Sacral (d)
- Coccygeal (e)
Physiological curvatures of the vertebral column (pic. 2):
- Cervical lordosi (f)
- Thoracic Kyphosis (g)
- Lumbar lordosi (h)
The spine and its role
The spine fulfills various functions, as all of us know, especially when the spine comes into play. It should be noted that this is a solid basis supporting virtually the entire body and allowing a huge range of motion
- It serves as an protective organ of the core
- It serves as a support organ of the body
- It serves as a movement organ
Movements for which the spine allows:
- bending and straightening
- The movements of extension are performed with greater force than the movements of flexion
- The extension is performed passively by the ligaments flavum and actively by extensor muscle group (Musculus erector) ; the abdominal muscles serve as the flexor.
- The lateral flexion of the spine (side bending) is performed by ventral and dorsal muscle bands of the one side.
- The movements of rotation are performed by the muscle spirals, which include back and abdominal muscles on both sides.
Everything about the joints in the spine
The spine is exceptional part of the body, 'Nature' as an architect in this role is second to none! Each vertebra has its function, and each section of the vertebrae is a connected structure, thanks to which for example we can stand. Let's consider the fact that the articular surfaces combine twenty-three intervertebral discs.
The syndesmoses include:
- the anterior longitudinal ligament
- the posterior longitudinal ligament.
The individual vertebrae are attached to each other by the ligaments:
- the intertransverse ligament
- the interspinous ligament
- the flavum ligament intertransverse ligament
- the supraspinous ligament and the nuchal ligament
The sacrococcygeal symphysis is connected by the ligaments:
- the ventral sacrococcygeal ligament
- the deep dorsal sacrocyccygeal ligament
- the superficial dorsal sacrococcygeal ligament
- the lateral sacrococcygeal ligament
Resiliency as a base of the spine functions
The spine is not a rigid and solid armor, but a multi-part armor, so its elasticity increases significantly. Due to the properties of intervertebral discs, all shocks are eliminated or at least reduced considerably. The curvatures of the spine also protect the central nervous system from shocks (so called ‘shock absorption’).
When does the spine set in?
The most common cause of spinal diseases is an incorrect lifestyle. The modern man spends many hours sitting, but does not think about whether he is doing it properly. Just as often, doing heavy work, he lifts weights improperly or does not care about a comfortable place to sleep. As a result, after years of such proceedings, it turns out that we suffer various afflictions of all segments of the spine. It is sufficient to just change a little so that the backbone serves us for a long time.
The most common disease of the vertebral column
- Degenerative disease of the spine - is a premature wear and degeneration of the tissues comprising the functional connection of the vertebrae - that is, the disc with the facet joints. It mostly affects elderly people, but can also develop in young age too. A medical history of back injury, professional sports, spine deformities is a predictive factor in its occurrence - it particularly refers to scoliosis and some hormonal and metabolic disorders.
- Sciatica - it is manifested by the acute pain in the back area, radiating to the buttocks, and even to the feet. Patients affected with sciatica are sometimes excluded from normal life for weeks since the pain can be so strong and nagging that it is impossible to function normally and move without help.
The lateral curvature of the spine - Scoliosis - it is multi-planar spinal curvature which not only impairs the right posture but, in severe cases, it may lead to the excessive pressure on the internal organs and, consequently, their dysfunction. The symptoms of scoliosis can include:
- pain in the back;
- especially in the lower part;
- fatigue occurring after long periods of standing or sitting in one position;
- the spine making the impression of being curved to the side;
- shoulders and hips are not set in parallel position;
- erniated disc -it is a broad term that describes the disease process where different types and degrees of damage to the annulus fibrosus cause abnormal movements of the inside of the disc mostly to the posterior lateral direction, leading to the annulus fibrosus overload. The degree of bulging and damage to the annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus is assessed by performing the magnetic resonance imaging examination.
The following conditions can be distinguished:
- protrusion - excessive bulging of the intervertebral disc to the outside without damaging walls and continuity of the annulus fibrosus
- extrusion - herniated disc with damage of the walls and breaking the continuity of the annulus fibrosus
- sequestration - separation of the part of the nucleus pulposus and its displacement to the spinal canal
An accentuated disk most often constricts the nerve roots, causing radicular pain, back longitudinal ligament and dural sac. The pain felt during the oppression of the herniated disk at the root core is very strong and runs along the limbs reaching even to the fingers.
How to take care of the spine?
When it already hurts - that means you have been wandering around too long. Always, pain testifies about changes that can have serious consequences if you constantly ignore them
The simplest form of prevention for everyone starts from an early age and it is simply gymnastics - in kindergarten or physical education classes at school. When this fails, you have to go one step further - that is change your daily habits, and as we know, a Pole is wise after the damage has been done, it's hard to be convinced to effort. But the devil's not so black as he is painted.
Let's start with the basics
The spine needs movement. In order to sustain the whole structure, you must have strong back muscles, which cannot be done on its own. You have to work on them. Swimming, aerobics or yoga are appropriate activities that will help us in this.
The spine should be straight - so just stop slouching. With help come furniture manufacturers who are already constructing such seats, chairs and beds that help relax tense muscles and provide proper posture while working, e.g. in front of the computer.
Do not unnecessarily load the spine. When you need to carry something heavy, try to do it in a correct position. Spread the weight evenly, e.g. when doing shopping, carry everything in two bags in both hands. When ducking bend your knees rather than the spine. The spine is nevertheless delicate and when you forget about it, you are not improving, but worsening its condition.