What is the spine?
The spine is a complex structure that provides a connection between many bones – the skull, sacrum, ribs, vertebrae. It consists of 33 vertebrae, divided into different sections (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, caudal), and is structurally in the shape of the letter “S”.
It is also an information “highway” through which countless nerve impulses pass during the day. It can be said that the spine is the most important component of the musculoskeletal system.
This is the reason we constantly monitor his condition. Unfortunately, this important component of the human body is quite susceptible to deformations and injuries.
Problems with spinal deformities have arisen since our ancestors stood up and began to walk on two legs and are now beginning to worsen due to sedentary lifestyles and unnatural postures that we take every day (90% of the modern man spends his time sitting).
There are three main types of spinal deformities: scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis.
Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine, which consists of curvature of the spine to the side (laterally), ie. to the left or to the right. It is considered the most serious type of deformation.
Additional curves of the spine usually occur as the body tends to stabilize, as well as tilting the head, shoulders, and pelvis in opposite directions. When the leading curve is on the right, scoliosis is called dextroscoliosis, and when it is on the left, it is called levoscoliosis.
Scoliosis can be found in different areas of the spine. It causes an imbalance in the muscles of the back and especially in the erectors (the muscles that keep us upright), which in turn leads to constant tension in them.
Depending on the degree of deformation (degree of distortion), structural changes of the entire spine, a reduction in its length (which leads to a shortening of height), as well as a visible imbalance in the symmetry of the body can occur. The disease is congenital or acquired.
Anomalies in the development of the structure of the vertebrae during pregnancy are the reasons for the emergence of so-called congenital scoliosis. Unfortunately, their appearance is still unclear to medicine. Acquired scoliosis can be:
- due to rickets
- due to improper posture at school or work
- due to an imbalance in the work of the back muscles
- as a result of trauma, surgery, or serious illness
The most common form of scoliosis is the so-called. functional, in which there is no change in the shape of the spine and is reversible, ie. curable through a complex of physiotherapeutic exercises, proper posture, and swimming.
The other stage of the disease is the so-called structural scoliosis, in which there are structural changes that lead to a change in the overall symmetry of the body. There is also torsion of the spine.
The treatment, in this case, helps to preserve, ie. not to worsen the condition and in more favorable cases to improve. Treatment consists of wearing a corset until puberty, and in more severe cases, surgery and implants.
Kyphosis is a deformity of the spine, which is characterized by an unnatural curvature of the spine in its upper part, which leads to the appearance of a hump (as well as shortening the length of the spine).
Kyphosis can also be congenital or acquired. In most cases, congenital is the more severe form of the disease and is accompanied by structural changes in the spine, and treatment is by placing a corset until the end of puberty or surgery (congenital deformity may be in a milder form). Acquired kyphosis is milder than congenital.
The reasons for it are:
- severe illness (rickets, etc.)
- malnutrition in early childhood
- weak back muscles
- incorrect posture
Sometimes the acquired form also leads to structural changes in the spine, but in its milder forms, it can be treated with physiotherapy, swimming, and proper posture.
Lordosis is a curvature of the spine in its lumbar region (waist), with the vertebrae curved toward the abdomen. With this deformity there is a pain in the lower back and discomfort when sitting in the correct position, purely visually there is a protrusion of the abdomen.
The most common cause of lordosis is improper body position and weak abdominal muscles or too short-waist muscles, and the disease can be congenital. Structural changes in the vertebrae are not as common as in scoliosis and kyphosis. The treatment is mainly through physiotherapy, swimming, and stretching.
It is important to know that spinal deformities are treatable in most cases, but also most people do not know they have them, so if in doubt, the surest way is to simply consult an orthopedic specialist.
Often the treatment consists of physiotherapy exercises, massages, stretching, swimming, and last but not least, adjusting the posture to an upright position and sitting.
If you do not have too much distortion, fitness classes would be useful, as long as you use moderate weights, especially since some of the exercises overlap with physiotherapy (hyperextension, training, etc.).
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