5 things you didn’t know about the spine!

The spine is truly amazing!  It is the foundation for movement and strength in our bodies.  As I have specialized in spine treatment over the past few years, I have come to see the spine as even more amazing.  Taking care of it and making sure it is functioning the best possible are some of my passions.

Here are 5 interesting facts about the spine!

  1. You shrink during the day!

    One of the side effects of having gravity is that over the course of the day we lose height. When you are asleep and lying down, the water content of the cartilage and discs in thSpine anatomye back increase and you gain height.

    During the day, however, the pressure of gravity pushes some of that water content out of the spine and you can lose up to .5 inches!  There are 25 discs in the spine, so if you lose a small amount from each one, that really ads up.

    Sometimes, back pain is increased in the morning because the disc has more pressure and water content.  On the other hand, sometimes back pain is increased in the afternoon where the disc has lost more height.

  2. Giraffes and Humans have the same number of neck bones!

    Humans have 7 neck, or cervical, vertebrae… and so do the long neck giants of the savannah! The vertebrae in giraffes are obviously larger and have more muscle and ligament support.

    Most mammals are very similar to us in their spine structure.  If you want to see something interesting, and maybe get grossed out like my wife, then look for the anatomy lesson next time you eat bone in meat.  It is surprisingly similar to our own.

    I would assume treating neck pain in Giraffes would be very challenging with that size of neck bones.

  3. There are over 120 muscles in the spine!

    Supporting the spine is a full time job for our bodies. It takes over 120 muscles to do the job and support everything from our head to our tail.

    When we talk about “core strength” we are talking about the stability of these muscles and their ability to keep us upright.  Core strength is not just about having tight abs, but is more about a coordinated effort by these muscles to add stability.

    We also have 33 vertebrae in the spine along with 220 individual ligaments that add support and strength, and allow us to do the amazing things our bodies can do.

  4. Scoliosis is a change in the bone structure of the spine

    Most scoliosis is idiopathic, meaning of unknown cause, but most the research agrees that the changes start in the structure of the bones. The vertebrae actually start to rotate and change shape, causing a cascade effect resulting in a curve.

    With scoliosis, and other spinal deformities, being a change in the bones, this means we cannot “fix” the scoliosis.  We can, however, improve the posture and reduce progression and size of the curve with specific exercise.

    The changes in these bones have even been observed and studies in mummies with scoliosis!

  5. You don’t have to live with back pain!

    In our society, it seems like back pain has just become the norm. It is not uncommon for me to hear people talk about back pain like it is just a fact of life and concluding that they just have to live with it.

    You don't have to live with back painThere are SO MANY THINGS we can do for back pain these days!  Treatments have come a long way, and our understanding of back pain continues to improve.

    Conservative treatment in therapy should be much different than just strengthening the core, although it is still an important aspect of it.  We see great success with manual therapy, massage, yoga, stretching, along with many other things.

    Don’t just live with it!  Contact me to talk about what we can do about it.  Email me at david@utahphysicaltherapy.com or call (801)980-0860 and I would be happy to talk to you!

The spine is one of the most amazing structures I have studied and there are many more interesting facts about it.  We are only given one, so let’s take care of it!

 

David Butler, Physical Therapist