If you're a frequent reader of ChiroCare of Florida's blog, you've probably gotten the gist that we put a lot of emphasis on the spine. We urge you to keep it in good health, to eat well and exercise, and to always check with a professional if you feel as though something is wrong.
But, have you ever stopped to wonder why the spine is so important? When we say the effects of spinal damage will be far reaching, we mean it. Your spine quite literally connects to your entire body.
The Function of the Spine
The spine is the central support structure of the body. In addition to keeping us upright, the spine connects the various parts of our skeleton to each other, including the:
Despite being our support system, the spine is also incredibly flexible. This is to give our bodies the ability to move freely, turn from side to side, and bend. The spine carries the weight of the body, including the head, torso, and arms. It's flexibility allows us to comfortably carry this weight without buckling under the pressure.
Arguably its most important function, the spine also houses and protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a key component of the central nervous system, which controls crucial body functions including breathing and movements.
The Spine and the Central Nervous System
Your spine is composed of a plethora of vertebrae, vertebral discs, and a network of nerves. These nerves are part of what's called the central nervous system (CNS). As discussed, the CNS is critical to body functions. It is composed of the brain and the spinal cord, which is protected by the spine. This structure controls:
- Heart Rate
- Release of Hormones
- Body Temperature
Pain signals are also sent along the CNS. If something is damaged along a vertebrae or in a disc, such as in a bulging disc, the compressed nerve would send signals to the CNS, which alerts the brain. Essentially, if your body was a computer, the CNS would be its motherboard. The spine keeps the CNS safe and allows it to function optimally.
The Spine and Organs
Because the spine houses one of the major components of the CNS, it aids in coordinating all of the information and activity of other systems of the body. When your brain sends signals to your internal organs, the information is received via your spinal cord. Therefore, when there is a misalignment or blockage in the spine, organs and related tissue will feel the effects.
Conditions such as numbness, aches, and even disorders in the digestive, excretory, and respiratory systems are detected and sensed by the spinal cord. In fact, chiropractic care has been shown to help with digestive disorders, as it helps in decreasing pressure on the spine and relieving underlying issues.
Vertebrae in Relation to Specific Functions
The spine is composed of 24 vertebrae. There are 7 in the cervical region, 12 in the thoracic region, 5 in the lumbar region. Each of these vertebrae have a direct connection to various bodily functions, including those housed within the nervous system.
The Cervical Spine
The cervical spine is the medical term for the vertebrae that make up the neck. When each vertebrae is listed, it's written with the letter C prefacing the number. For instance, the first vertebrae in the cervical spine is the C1.
- C1: This is also known as the Atlas. It is the vertebra situated immediately beneath the base of the skull. It's purpose is to balance and support the head. A misalignment in this vertebrae creates headaches, CNS disorders, and emotional problems when under pressure.
- C2: Connects the eyes, nose, and sense of smell.
- C4, C5, & C6: These are related to the vocal chords, the pharynx, the mouth, thyroid glands, and the shoulders. Issues within these vertebrae can affect any of the latter. The C6 is also what connects the cervical spine to the thoracic spine, which is situated right below it.
The Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine is the medical way of describing the vertebrae located in upper back and abdomen. When each vertebrae of the thoracic spine is listed, it's written with a T before the number.
- T1: The first vertebrae of the thoracic spine is located right beneath the shoulder blades. It impacts breathing. When compromised, it can be reflected in asthma and lung diseases.
- T2: Connects to the heart and lungs.
- T3: Relates to the chest and breathing.
- T5: Connects to the liver and blood circulation.
- T6: Connects to the stomach.
- T8: Connects to the spleen.
- T10 & T11: Relate to the kidneys.
- T12: Connects to the colon, large intestine, joints, and the lymphatic system. It also connects to the Fallopian tubes in women. This is the last thoracic vertebrae, and connects the thoracic spine to the lumbar spine.
The Lumbar Spine
You're most likely accustomed to referring to the lumbar spine as your lower back. This area of the spine receives the most wear and tear, as it is where we bend and turn from. When we write out the vertebrae of the lumbar spine, each vertebrae is listed with an L before the number.
- L1: The first vertebrae of the lumbar spine begins right at the base of the ribs. It connects with the intestines. Imbalances in the L1 result in constipation and indigestion.
- L2: Connects the abdomen and legs.
- L3: Relates to the genitals and urinary system.
- L4: If constricted, could reflect problems within the sciatic nerve. Connects with the prostate in men.
- L5: Relates to the knees, feet, and legs.
Taking good care of your spine is no joke. If you're suffering from a stomach ache, kidney issues, or any other medical condition, the underlying condition could be stemming from a spinal misalignment. Contact ChiroCare of Florida today to ensure that your spine is functioning optimally.