The spine is our body’s central support structure. Without it, we would not be able to stand, twist, bend, or move in any of the myriad ways that we do every day.
It’s no wonder, then, why the spine is considered the most critical piece of our bodies’ nervous systems.
When the spinal column is misaligned, our ability to move and experience regular, pain-free living is hindered. Not only does a misaligned spine impede movement, but it can also cause severe pain, joint stiffness, and long-term postural issues if left untreated.
To maintain the health and longevity of your body’s most important structural pillar it’s crucial that you know how to treat a misaligned spine and identify spinal health problems.
The first step toward a lifetime of pain-free mobility starts with knowing the signs and symptoms of a misaligned spine.
Spinal Health 101: An Anatomy Lesson
It’s impossible to understand what causes spine misalignment without first knowing the basics of the spine’s anatomical structure.
The anatomy of a normal, healthy spine is divided into three segments:
The three spinal regions are ordered from the lowest (near the hips) to the highest (near the skull) point in the mid-body.
Beneath the lowest (lumbar) section of the spine is the sacrum, which connects to the pelvic girdle. This area is where the spinal column ends and the hips begin.
At the top of the spinal column is the atlas (C1) vertebra which articulates with the base of the skull. When viewed from the back, the atlas and the lumbosacral joint (L5) should perfectly align without any visible curvatures.
Each of the spine’s three regions is composed of bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. The lumbar spine includes 5 vertebrae, while the thoracic (mid-spine) and cervical are composed of 12 and 7 vertebrae, respectively.
The Intervertebral Discs
Each vertebra is separated from the next by an intervertebral disc (fibrocartilage) that forms of a small joint between each vertebral bone. The intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers for the spine and provide the “glue” that holds the structure together.
Discs that move out of place are painful and often traumatic injuries called herniations.
The discs are lubricated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which acts as a buffer between the vertebrae. Our bodies produce up to half a liter of CSF every day to supply our brains and spines with mechanical and immunological protection.
The Spinal Curvature
When viewed from one’s side, a healthy spine should exhibit a gentle curvature to allow for shocks to be absorbed by the intervertebral discs.
From the back, however, the spine should appear to be aligned in a straight downward direction. When the spine’s natural curvature is disrupted or exaggerated, serious chronic pain and mobility issues can arise.
The spinal cord should never be too significantly curved in any direction. A misaligned spine that sways too far to any direction requires medical attention and diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional.
What Does The Spine Do?
When properly aligned, the spine provides the bedrock foundation for our body’s structural system. The spine allows us to stand upright and serves as a central hub for all other extremities and bones to connect to, including the pelvis, shoulders, arms, and legs. Since the spine is a flexible and elastic structure, it allows us to bend and twist freely.
The spine also serves an important secondary function: to protect the spinal cord.
The spinal cord is a long and thin tube of nervous tissue that runs from the brainstem to the lower lumbar. Without the spinal cord, the brain would have no way to communicate with the other organs and nerves in the body.
Therefore, the spinal cord is necessary for basic human functioning.
A strong spine is a healthy spine. The weight of our bodies and skulls must be supported by the spine, which is tasked with holding up our limbs, heads, and core. In other words, a body without a strong and healthy spine wouldn’t be able to function—it would fold, immobile, on the ground.
Spinal Misalignment Problems: What Are They?
There are many structural issues that plague the spine.
However, the most common of these are spine curvature disorders, which arise due to a misaligned spine. A spine out of alignment is characterized by three curvature disorders, which are:
- Scoliosis: An exaggerated sideways curvature of the spine, often in the shape of an “S” or “C” instead of a straight line.
- Kyphosis: A chronic “hunchback” posture involving a rounded thoracic spine of more than 50 degrees.
- Lordosis: A spinal alignment issue, often called “swayback,” marked by a significant inward curve in the lumbar spine.
A back out of alignment causes a host of long-term mobility and chronic pain problems if left uncorrected. Unless the patient receives a spinal alignment procedure, the vertebrae or intervertebral discs can erode and cause permanent immobility or limited range of motion.
Fortunately, a spinal alignment chiropractor can readjust one’s spinal column to restore the full range of motion. A spinal alignment chiropractor is a healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the spine and the structural issues that arise from spinal injuries or a spine out of alignment.
How To Fix A Misaligned Spine
Treating a spine out of alignment starts by consulting a qualified chiropractor. As licensed healthcare professionals, chiropractors can treat herniated discs, bulging vertebrae, or curvature disorders such as lordosis and scoliosis.
Chiropractors are medically trained professionals who are qualified to treat a back out of alignment by using their hands to adjust the bones in the spine, pelvis, and nervous system. Chiropractic is an evidence-based and non-invasive method for promoting spinal health and preventing common diseases and disorders related to the spine.
We’re often asked, “can chiropractors realign my spine?” For most of us, the answer is yes.
Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is a soft-hand technique that gently adjusts the vertebrae of the spine to allow for correct movement and improved function.
Chiropractic is the best treatment for misaligned spine and other common back-related ailments such as low back pain, curvature disorders, and sciatica. If you are part of the 80 percent of Americans who will experience persistent low back pain, consulting a licensed chiropractor is the first step toward restoring your spine to its mobile, pain-free condition.
What Are The Symptoms of a Misaligned Spine?
If you are unsure whether you have a back out of alignment, you should register whether you exhibit any of the symptoms of a spinal alignment issue.
You should consult a spine alignment chiropractor if you embody any of following spinal misalignment symptoms:
- Chronic migraine or headaches
- Neck and cervical spine pain
- Lower back or pelvic pain
- Frequent illness
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Tingling and numb extremities
- Walking abnormalities
Consider seeking out the services of a spine alignment chiropractor if any combination of the above symptoms of a misaligned spine applies to you. Knowing how to fix a misaligned spine begins with identifying the symptoms of a misaligned spine and correcting the issue as early as possible.
Spine out of alignment lower back pain is often one of the first tell-tale signs of a serious structural issue. If you notice that your lumbar spine is causing you pain and you’re asking “what are the symptoms of a misaligned spine,” then you may be suffering from a curvature disorder that requires professional attention.
Spine Misalignment Risk Factors
When you suffer from a spinal misalignment problem, you set yourself up for other long-term structural issues that can impact your health.
Most chiropractic patients who put off spinal treatment have an increased risk of developing the following conditions:
- Slouched or hunched posture
- Reduced mobility
- Pain while sitting, bending, or standing
- Bone and joint deformities
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Respiratory issues and breathing impairment
Receiving treatment for spinal alignment problems should be your first priority after identifying the symptoms of a back out of alignment. Otherwise, you may end up with serious acute back problems such as a herniated disc, which requires more costly and time-intensive treatment than routine spinal adjustments.
The Benefits of Spinal Decompression
Spinal decompression treatment is one of the most common medical techniques for treating bulging or herniated discs, sciatic pain, radiating pain in limbs, compressed nerves, or headaches.
Chiropractic doctors practice non-invasive manual decompression of the spine to increase the interstitial space between the bones of the spinal column.
Consult with your doctor or chiropractor to determine whether spinal decompression therapy should be part of your treatment program. Once the therapy is prescribed, you can look forward to the following benefits after a few sessions on your therapist’s decompression table:
- Alleviating of acute lower back pain
- Muscular strengthening along the spinal column
- Full control and feeling restored to extremities
- Improved mobility and range of motion
- Preventing of tingling feeling in limbs
Decompression therapy is a non-invasive alternative to spinal surgery. Although surgery may be necessary in severe cases, routine decompression therapy sessions provide a gentle alternative for long-term back pain relief.
How Does Decompression Therapy Work?
When we undergo decompression therapy, the vertebrae in our spinal columns gently separate, which causes a vacuum effect between the bones of the spine. The spine’s vacuum effect draws in water and other cerebrospinal fluid to the spinal discs, which allows for greater lubrication and spinal mobility.
Our vertebrae naturally load with water and other fluids that provide a comfortable buffer between our spinal bones.
In other words, fluids act as a cushion that prevents vertebrae from rubbing against each other and causing discomfort.
However, aging and chronic disease cause cerebrospinal fluid to leak out of the space between our spinal discs. This leakage results in the discs compressing and grating.
Spinal compression puts lots of pressure on the spine, which restricts mobility and makes it difficult to bend, twist, or even stand without experiencing sharp pain. Decompression therapy works by gently pulling apart the affected vertebrae, which allows for natural fluids to work their way back into the cleft between the vertebrae.
What Causes of Spinal Misalignment?
Detecting the causes of spinal misalignment is difficult.
However, it’s safe to assume that a lifetime’s worth of small repetitive stress and trauma—including slips, falls, sports injuries, and other accidents—add up to generate misalignments and subluxations.
There are several known causes of spinal misalignment disorders. For instance, lordosis is caused by a range of factors, including:
- Achondroplasia (bone growth disorder)
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped forward vertebrae)
- Extreme obesity
- Inflammation of the spinal column
- Poor posture or chronic slouching
- Irregular vertebrae development in utero
Fortunately, chiropractic therapies exist that offer minimally-invasive solutions for lower back pain, spinal compression, misalignments, and other related injuries. Whether caused by a car accident, birth defect, developmental disorder, or an environmental factor such as obesity or poor posture, spinal misalignment problems can be treated and reversed.
Spinal Misalignment and Sciatica
A misaligned spine can cause compression in the lumbar region of the spine. When vertebrae in the lower back compress, they often pinch the sciatic nerve that runs along the pelvic girdle and sacrum.
Chronic pinching of the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica, and it is a highly debilitating and painful health condition.
Herniated or bulging discs, as well as spinal curvature disorders such as lordosis, can cause sciatica.
Fortunately, decompression therapy from a licensed chiropractor provides alleviation of the lumbar vertebrae. As the lumbar decompresses, the vertebrae become more spread out and no longer pinch or weigh down on the sciatic nerve.
Contact Beach Pain Center
Chronic back pain won’t fix itself. Whether it’s caused by spinal misalignment, repetitive stress, or a traumatic injury, relief can be achieved by consulting the services of a qualified chiropractor.
If your misaligned spine is causing you pain or immobility, contact Beach Pain Center and see for yourself how non-invasive, gentle readjustment and compression therapies can provide you with permanent relief.