Back Care 101

By Chad Evans, PT



To learn more about the spine and a catch in your back, please read this ARTICLE.

Yes, another article on back care. It seems like there is a lot of information out there regarding how to take care of your spine. Some of it seems good, and some of it not so good. I am here to tell you, keep it simple. By understanding structure, function, and body mechanics, you may be able to resolve or prevent low back pain.

4 Regions of the Spine

To begin with the spine is made up of numerous cylinder shaped bones called vertebrae. These bones stack together forming what is known as the spinal column. They are connected together by facets joints, discs, muscles, and ligaments. The spine is generally thought of as being divided into 4 regions:

  1. Cervical (neck) consists of 7 vertebrae and provides lots of movement
  2. Thoracic (torso) consists of 12 vertebrae, less movement, connection for ribs
  3. Lumbar (lower back) consists of 5 large vertebrae, provides lots of movement
  4. Sacrum/Coccyx(tailbone) 8 fused vertebrae that connect to pelvis bones

Function of the Spine

The main function of the spine is to protect the spinal cord. It also allows for trunk mobility and support, as well as shock absorption via the disc and it numerous curves. The muscles that run along the front (abdominals) and back side of the spine act as a corset to help brace and protect it.

Because there are so many structures that make up the spine, you can see why it can be difficult to figure out the origin of back pain. Typically there are a few common factors;

1- weak core muscles (abdominals and lumbar erectors)

2- poor flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and lumbar area

3- poor postural habits (sitting, standing, and sleeping)

4-poor body mechanics with lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying.

Back problems usually present as localized symptoms in the lumbar region but sometimes these symptoms can radiate down the leg as well. Localized pain is often the result of muscle guarding from such things as sprains/strains, arthritis, joint stiffness, and/or disc injury. Radiating symptoms are usually related to pressure or irritation to a nerve or nerve root. The source of irritation or pressure could be from entrapment due to decreased disc height, disc protrusion, muscle entrapment, and/or arthritic changes.

Treatment of the Spine or Back 

Treatment for these different conditions can vary based on the origin of the problem. Typically, treatment is focused on decreasing muscle guarding via massage, ultrasound, heat, ice and electrical stimulation. When symptoms have decreased enough, light stretching and gentle joint mobilizations may be beneficial. As things improve core strengthening exercises are initiated to help protect your spine for the performance of daily activities. Learning and using proper body mechanics and posture will help ensure that your back is not exposed to further trauma. For help with your back problems or prevention of future problems, consider speaking to one of the Therapist’s at JOI.  For appointments for JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

Learn about Low back pain

Learn about Lower Back Pain

Related Article: Common Reasons for Neck Pain and The Best Core Stabilization Exercises. 

JOI Rehab also has a Fast Track Spine Program to get you into therapy quickly.

To schedule an appointment with a JOI Spine Physician, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online or click the link below.

By: Chad Evans, MPT

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