In many cases, pain that emerges in one part of the spine first starts because of a condition occurring somewhere else in the spine. Many patients are interested in what causes lumbar pain in a person whose lower back appears to be healthy on a MR-image. Some patients with low back pain say their cervical spine ached first. A firmly-held opinion is that if you have surgery on one part of the spine, the neighboring sections will start to hurt in the future. Is this really true?
I would like to remind you that the spine is a very complicated and movable structure consisting of 33 vertebrae that are connected with joints, intervertebral discs, ligaments, and muscles.
The vertebrae exchange information with the help of muscles and ligaments. If you try to imagine that one vertebra is moving separately from the rest, you will understand that this is impossible. Any movement, turning or bending of one vertebra results in the neighboring vertebrae changing position because ligaments and muscles connect them. Some ligaments and muscles begin on one vertebra and end two, three or even more vertebrae away from where they start. These muscles resemble an open fan that is fixed to several vertebrae. Muscles that are connected like this influence the movement of, not only some vertebrae, but of the whole spinal section.
Think of our experiments with the cat. The programs that control our poses and movements are installed in our brain and spinal cord. These programs run all our spinal parts. So we can make this conclusion: if some unconscious posture and movement program starts to work, it will affect the whole spine as well! This is very important because now we can influence our posture by changing the state of our different body parts and sections of our spine.
Check out this statement and watch it at work in real life, so you’ll know it’s true. Watch a two-or three-year-old child who is playing in a sandbox. Of course, his or her spine is round at play. There is kyphosis in all the spinal parts. But the minute Mom calls, the child’s head raises and a front curve in the cervical spine, (lordosis), appears. A front curve in the lower back also appears simultaneously!
Let’s do some experiments with ourselves. Sit in a chair, bend your elbows and place them on your knees and bow your head. Let’s call this the “coachman” pose. In this position, your spine becomes arch-shaped and resembles a wheel. At this moment, you can feel tension in your neck and upper and lower back muscles. Now start raising your head and slowly unbend your neck. At the moment your neck and head come into a vertical position, you will feel your low back straighten as well. At the end of the experiment, your entire spine will be straight!
Now start the experiment in the coachman pose again, but from the bottom to the top. Straighten your crooked lower back slowly. As soon as it becomes straight, you will unconsciously straighten your neck and chest!
The third experiment shows us how posture influences legs. Take the coachman pose again. Now try to stand up holding your spine, including your neck, crooked. This move will seem to be very complicated for you. Just after you straighten your back, or increase the tone of your back extensors, it will be easy for you to get up. This last experiment was described in my book, “33 Vertebrae, or I Love My Osteochondrosis.”
Imagine that you have been standing in line for a long time. This means that your head is bowed, and you are stooping a bit. Try to get up on your toes and hold this position. You will not be able to stay in this non-physiologic position until you straighten your neck or back and raise your head a bit. These experiments prove that when you lift your heel from the floor and strain the muscle in the calf of your leg, at that moment, your spine straightens reflexively and automatically. You can use these strange and amazing bodily reflexes in your everyday life.
If you have to sit for a long time and your back gets tired, it becomes crooked, and you start bending forward. To hold your spine straight you can use the laws of biomechanics: just lift your heel off the floor, leaning up on your toes. You can raise one heel or both of them, the effect will be the same: your back will straighten at once and will remain straight as long as your heel is off the floor. This is really helpful because, since it’s easy to raise the heel and keep it raised, it also becomes easy to hold your back straight. This exercise is called “Separation of the heel from the support” and it’s described in my book “Smart Loin.” I’m happy to share it, and you’re welcome to use it!
In the picture, you can see the major biomechanical processes of the spine: when your cervical vertebrae are straightening, your low back is straightening as well. Together these spinal sections make your posture and balanced and healthy.
So now, let’s answer the question concerning spine surgery. Is it true that an operation on one part of the spine causes changes in neighboring parts? I will be honest: this is true. That’s why I try to stick to minimally invasive, that is, non-traumatic spine surgery, or types of procedures that provide maximum effect with the least damage. I dedicated my entire book, “33 Vertebrae, or I Love My Osteochondrosis,” and the website WWW.SPINANORMA.RU to the surgical treatment of the spine. I invite you to read them!
- If you improve the position of one part of the spine, the other spinal sections will straighten and your posture will improve.
- The position of the cervical spine has enormous influence on correct posture.
- Your feet can easily help you maintain the proper position of your lower back when you’re sitting.
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