As the central support structure, the spine is one of the essential parts of the body. It enables flexible motion, protects the spinal cord and nerve roots, and provides structural support and balance to the body. When your spine is healthy, your body has an easier time functioning and healing itself. When your spine becomes misaligned, whether by injury or misuse, it disrupts communication between your brain and body.
Important Functions of the Spine
As we mentioned above, the spine serves many important functions for the body, including:
Stability and support – the spine holds our frame and transfers the weight of the torso to the pelvis, hips, and legs, while supporting the attached muscles, organs, and ribs.
Movement – without good spine function, movement is inhibited. Pain or stiffness resulting from lack of motion may trigger an anxiety response.
Shock absorption – the natural curves of the spine, and intervertebral discs, create a spring system that allow us to move freely with damaging the structure.
Neurological integrity – the spinal column provides a flexible, protected channel for the spinal cord and nerve roots. Neurological signals travel from the brain to the body by passing through this channel. Sensory information such as touch, cold, pressure, pain, and other sensations originate in the spine. Damage to the spinal column or nerves disrupts the body’s ability to perceive and react to the environment.
Side-Effects of Poor Spine Health
The spinal column is sensitive and susceptible to strains and injuries. Which, in turn, can impact many other areas of the body. A spine that is out of alignment may trigger migraines, headaches, sinus issues, and hormonal imbalances. These side-effects may result in low energy, mood swings, weight fluctuations, insomnia, and stress responses – such as anxiety.
Prolonged and untreated back problems may potentially lead to:
- Acute back pain – pain the persists for three to six months, or pain that is related to tissue damage.
- Chronic back pain – pain that lasts longer than three to six months, and tends to be related to tissue damage or structural issues.
Tips for a Healthy Spine
- Stay active and maintain stretching routine – fluidity and stretching improve spine health drastically, lowering your risk for low back pain. A combination of core strengthening, stretching, and aerobic activity will support spine health.
- Get a good night’s rest – use a mattress with adequate firmness to provide support to your spine while you sleep. Similarly, you can place a pillow between your knees to reduce stress on the lower back and keep your spine aligned throughout the night.
- Get a massage – it’s always nice to treat yourself! A professional massage can offer therapeutic benefits by loosening tight muscles and connective tissues.
- Stay hydrated – dehydration leads to strain and fatigue, combat that by drinking plenty of water.
- Eat a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight – excess weight can add strain to the lower back as a result of the stress on muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the spine. Prioritizing a healthy diet and exercise regime can help maintain your weight and avoid unnecessary strain on the spinal column. Eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties (leafy greens, fruits, nuts, tomatoes) can also assist with reducing back pain.
- Lift items properly by bending your knees and lifting with your legs.
- Wear supportive shoes – good shoes provide a supportive base that keeps the spine and body in alignment. Shoes should fit snugly against the back of your heel, and prevent rolling of the foot and ankle.
If back pain restricts you from being able to perform daily activities, it may be time to see an orthopedic spine specialist.
The spine team at Raleigh Orthopaedic consists of board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeons who are trained to treat strains, sprains, fractures, and other spinal conditions or injuries. The spine surgeons collaborate with non-operative physicians who are also spinal specialists (physiatrists) to treat most problems without surgery. For problems that might benefit from surgical treatment, the spine surgeons perform surgery using the most modern techniques and in a minimally-invasive fashion when possible.
SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT
Click here or call us at (919) 781-5600 to schedule an appointment with one of our spinal specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.
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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.