Your spinal column is a key to why back pain is considered the #1 pain complaint in America, and the world, yet the anatomy of the spine is not understood by the vast majority of people. The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that 8 out of 10 Americans have had back pain at some point and that Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain.
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The Spinal Column and back pain
Your back is composed of 24 vertebrae that are collectively called “the spine.” As you look at the graphic of your spinal column below, you’ll see you have 7 Cervical vertebrae (shown in yellow), 12 Thoracic vertebrae (shown in blue), and 5 Lumbar vertebrae (shown in pink). The purpose of the spinal column is to protect your spinal cord as it goes from your brain to every cell in your body.
The spinal column has strong fibers, called ligaments, that connect each of these 24 bones together, and each vertebra is separated by a disk that is made of a tough gel-like substance to cushion each bone as you move. The bones, ligaments, and disks form a structure that is strong, but flexible.
Your spinal column is immovable and is totally dependent on muscles to enable you to bend in the uncountable movements you make every day.The only way a bone will move without a muscle is if you are in a traumatic accident, forcing the bone out of alignment.
Why Muscles Need to Be Released to Treat Pain In Your Spinal Column
Even while sitting still the muscles are working to hold your spinal column upright or you would tip over from the weight of your upper body. You are able to move because of the many muscles of your back pulling individually, or in groups, on your vertebrae. You move in the direction of the pull.
If, for example, the muscles on your right side (quadratus lumborum, a low back muscle) are pulling your spine down and toward the right, the muscle of your left side needs to be able to relax and lengthen. If the left side muscles stay tight you won’t be able to lean over to the right. This is the situation across your entire body. Muscles are pulling your bone(s) in one direction, and the opposite muscles need to lengthen in order for you to make the movement. With regards to back pain, it is only by releasing the tension in the tight muscles that you will relieve the pain in your spinal column.
The way the bones of your spinal column are interconnected is the reason why you can feel pain in your low back when a muscle is in spasm in your upper back. The muscle is pulling your spinal column out of alignment. If a bone is out of alignment because of a muscle strain, putting the bone back in place without first releasing the tight muscle is not useful as the muscle will pull it back out of alignment again.
Just as pulling on the end of your hair will cause pain at your scalp, so too does a muscle pulling on the bone cause pain in the joint. It is because of tight muscles that you feel stiff, and if the muscle is pulling on your vertebrae you have back pain.
In the same manner, if the muscle is putting pressure on the nerves that come out of your spinal column and travel to points all over your body, you will feel burning pain or numbness.
Often you’ll be feeling the pain a distance from the spasm that is causing the problem.
When muscles are pulling the front of your pelvis, as well as your lumbar vertebrae, forward and down (psoas, iliacus, and rectus femoris), the back of your pelvis is rotating up. At the same time, muscles in your low back (quadratus lumborum) is pulling up on the top of your posterior pelvis. A notch in your pelvis, called the Greater Sciatic Notch, presses up into your sciatic nerve. This is the muscular cause of sciatica.
You CAN get relief from back pain – without drugs or surgery!
The 15 Minute Back Pain is filled with colorful charts that shows exactly where the spasm is located and where it is referring pain in the body. When you release the spasm in the muscle, the tension is taken off the bone and the nerves, and pain is quickly eliminated.