- ANATOMY - Back
ANATOMY - Back
Low Back Anatomy
Your spine moves thousands of times each day in an infinite combination of directions. Thus, it is no surprise that almost everyone will experience some sort of back pain at onetime in their lifetime. To fully understand how to recover from your back pain, you should have some background in anatomy. This section will give you a better understanding of the anatomy of your lower back.
The human spine (backbone) is composed of small bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are stacked one on top of another to form a column called the spinal column. In between each of these vertebrae there are cushions called disks to help absorb the shock your low back takes each day. In addition, these disks allow your spine to move in a multitude of directions not possible with a standard ball and socket type joint.
Your spinal cord runs through the back half of your spinal column using the tough bony covering to protect itself against injury. The spinal cord gives off branches all the way down its path through your spinal column. These branches are called nerve roots just like a tree gives off roots. The roots exit the spinal column through specially designed holes called neural foramina (a big word for nerve exit).
Low Back Anatomy: Muscles and Ligaments
Ligaments, tendons and muscles stabilize the spinal column. In addition, specialized joints called facets stabilize the column. These facets hold the vertebrae together, but also allow controlled motion of the spinal column. Even small strains to these stabilizing structures can cause pain and stiffness.
A majority of low back pain is due to some sort of inflammation, strain, or sprain to these structures.
Sometimes a back strain can cause an irritation to the large nerve around your buttocks called the sciatic nerve. This is sometimes called sciatica.
Occasionally, the disks in your vertebral column can become injured or damaged causing pressure onto your nerve root or even your spinal cord. This may cause most of your pain to be located in your leg rather than your back. This is sometimes referred to as a herniated disk or slipped disk. If you notice that you have more pain in your leg than your back, you should report this immediately to your doctor.
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