Understanding the spine is the key to understanding why Chiropractors do what they do and why they obtain extraordinary results with a variety of different conditions.

The spine is a complex structure containing a number of associated muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves which commonly become irritated and injured. Extended sitting, repetitive motions, bad postural habits, mental stress, lack of exercise and inadequate nutritional intake are just some of the everyday stresses which accumulate to produce damaging effects on the spinal components.

Chiropractors are experts in providing safe, fast and effective relief for most of these mechanical spinal problems.
We can break down the mechanical spinal pain into different components.

The Facet Joints

Many spinal experts actually consider the facet joints to be a common source of spinal pain and discomfort.

Each vertebrae possesses 2 sets of facet joints – one set for joining to the vertebrae above and one set for joining to the vertebrae below. In association with the spinal discs, the facet joints allow for movement between the individual vertebrae of the spine.

The facet joints are under a constant load from the weight of the body and are involved in guiding general motion and preventing extreme motions in the trunk.  Repetitive or excessive trunkal motions, especially in rotation or extension, can irritate and injure facet joints or their encasing fibres.  Also, abnormal spinal biomechanics – similar to a wheel out of alignment – such as poor strength of back muscles and carrying extra weight can significantly increase spinal stresses and thus greatly accelerate the wear and tear on the facet joints.

Chiropractors, using orthopaedic examination and taking a detailed case history identify and treat facet joint abnormalities and stresses along with other mechanical spinal abnormalities to keep backs and bodies healthy whilst reducing pain.

Recent UK guidelines from NICE indicate that commonly applied procedures such as invasive facet joint injections should be discouraged for persistent low back pain in favour of manual treatments and exercise.

The Spinal Muscles and Ligaments

Spinal muscles and ligaments attach to the vertebrae, ribs, and pelvis to permit and manage various trunk motions including – forward and backward bending, side to side bending, and rotation or twisting. When a spinal motion occurs in excess or a muscle is worked beyond its capacity, whether suddenly or gradually over time, injury occurs.

Sprains and strains of the muscles or ligaments upset the normal balance of the spine.  Spinal structural alignment and biomechanics can be significantly altered. These alterations make the spinal components (discs, facets, vertebrae, nerves, etc.) increasingly prone to injury and degenerative processes.

Chiropractors are experts in rehabilitation of spinal muscles and ligaments to prevent spinal imbalances. Proper spinal motion and spinal biomechanics can only occur with healthy muscles and ligaments.
Certain conditions such as hyper mobility syndrome can be more prone to this classification of injury due to increased laxity of the ligaments.

Good strength and endurance of spinal muscles is the key to maintaining a successful long term outcome from an episode of back pain.

The Sacroiliac Joint

The sacroiliac joint is another spinal component which undergoes very large spinal stresses.  Either the ligaments supporting the joints or the actual joint surfaces can be a source of low back pain and even refer pain into the lower extremities.

There are 2 sacroiliac joints formed by the articulation between the sacrum and 2 ilium bones of the pelvis. Like the other spinal structures, the sacroiliac joints can be injured through acute trauma, repetitive movements, and unhealthy lifestyles such as poor strength of spinal muscles and carrying extra weight.

Symptoms include lower back pain with the pain occasionally extending down the back of the leg as far as the knee. Additionally, hip pain, knee pain as well as foot and ankle pain may be present due to increased stress on those joints as a result of an alteration of pelvic biomechanics.

Manual treatments and exercises applied by Chiropractors are frequently applied to the ilium and sacrum to successfully normalise and restore sacroiliac joint biomechanics.

The intervertebral discs also contribute to back pain at a large scale however we will cover that in itself in our next blog. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Or give us a call on 01702 342329.

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