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Is Your Spine The ‘Backbone' That It Should Be?

Athletic woman's spineEvery once in a while, it’s worth getting back to basics for a little refresher course on the importance of spinal health and what you can do to restore and maintain the health of yours.

Why is spinal health important?

Two reasons.

First, your spine is the structural backbone of your body. OK, bad pun. But you get the idea. There is a reason why the word “backbone” has come to mean anything that is the foundation, the fundamental support, of something else. Without this stack of bones and the anchor they provide for the muscles of your core, you couldn’t keep upright or even stand up.

Second, the vertebrae of the spine fit together in a precise way to create an articulated suit of armour that protects your spinal cord. The spinal cord is the information superhighway that relays all the information back and forth between the brain and every cell in our bodies. Since the spinal cord is composed of soft tissue, it would be vulnerable to damage without this protection. Even minor damage can cause respiratory issues, organ failure, and paralysis.

How can it affect other parts of the body?

We just said how devastating damage to the spinal cord can be. But even tension on the spinal cord may have negative health effects. The issues we commonly see in our Kanata Chiropractic clinic include:

What are common reasons for spinal issues?

Various conditions can negatively impact the spine and lead to these kinds of symptoms, such as tumours, scoliosis, herniated discs, infection, rheumatoid arthritis, and some bone diseases.

However, the most common causes we see in our Kanata Chiropractic office relate to the wear-and-tear of daily living (which of course, may lead to an issue like a herniated disc). Often, this is compounded by lifestyle habits – nutrition, exercise (or lack thereof), work ergonomics, etc.

The vertebrae of the spine are designed to stack and fit together to form a natural S-curve. But too much time hunched over a desk, or over a mobile device (that growing phenomena of “text neck” we see in kids and millennials) or performing a repetitive task at work that puts strain on the spine, can gradually erode the proper alignment of the vertebrae. Chiropractors call this a subluxation.

When a spine acquires these subluxations, the resultant misalignment may begin to put tension on the spinal cord. This interrupts that healthy flow of information with the brain and may cause soft tissue inflammation. Together, these issues can lead to those common symptoms we listed above.

If neglected long enough, these areas of the spine suffer arthritic degeneration of both the vertebrae and the discs between them – we have the X-ray evidence to prove it. The degeneration is progressive without treatment and is NOT reversible.

Do people overlook that they should be looking after their spine?

Quite often, yes, they do. It’s easy to take your spine for granted because the lifestyle habits that can erode your spinal health are, for the most part, gradual. Short of a traumatic accident or the onset of a diagnosed disease with obvious symptoms, a spinal subluxation sneaks up quietly. Those symptoms we list above worsen slowly over time, even months or years.

But in the meantime, the damage is being done, that arthritic degeneration is starting to happen. It’s like that growing cavity on a back molar you don’t know you have, until your dental hygienist spots it during a routine cleaning, or on a periodic X-ray.

Other lifestyle habits also take their toll and accelerate and aggravate the problem:

  • Chronic poor posture.
  • Lack of stretching to loosen tight muscles in the neck and shoulders.
  • Exercise to strengthen those same muscles and the muscles of your core to provide your spine with more support and resistance to injury.
  • Poor dietary choices that aggravate headaches and muscle inflammation (and that add pounds to your waistline, which puts extra stress on your spine, hips, and knees).

How can Chiropractic help?

As with any medical condition, the key is to identify the root cause of the problem and address it with the right course of treatment. As we said, arthritic degeneration cannot be reversed, but the earlier we catch it, the better. Except for the worst-case scenarios, we can likely reduce pain, restore mobility, and ease the other symptoms you may be experiencing in other parts of your body.

We achieve this by working to correct those subluxations and restore the spine to its proper and natural alignment – to the degree that this is possible, depending on your circumstances.

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