Would you say that your little finger is more important than your heel? Of course not! Every part of your body is important. But still, you have to admit, some parts are more important than others. For instance, you can survive without a finger or a toe, but it’s impossible to live without your spinal column. Your spine is the most important part of your body! Your head is attached at the top of it, and inside of it is the central line that connects all your other organs and systems: the spinal cord. Through the spinal cord, your brain literally controls each and every cell of your body.
Before birth, during the prenatal period, a human being rapidly repeats the evolution of all previous living creatures, including the worm, which is made up of separate segments. The human spine inherited this segmental structure. Each separate vertebra reminds us that we have ancestors – worms!!!
Our spine is movable because the vertebrae connect to each other with the help of intervertebral joints and discs. In my book, “33 Vertebrae or I Love My Osteochondrosis,” as well as at the website WWW.SPINANORMA.RU, I explain the structure of intervertebral discs, diseases that can affect them and the ways they heal. Despite the fact that discs enable vertebrae to move, they are not really joints. This is because a healthy disc has no articular cavity or any other features of a real joint.
A human being is born with 32 to 34 vertebrae. This number varies because there can be a difference in the number of coccyx or “tail” bones. Most often newborns have 33 vertebrae. But a mature adult has only 24 movable vertebrae: 12 thoracic vertebrae, 7 cervical vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae. 5 vertebrae fuse or knit together to become a one-piece sacral bone. The rest of the vertebrae, 4 of them, fuse to form the tailbone.
If you think you bow your head by using your neck bones, or cervical vertebrae, you’re wrong! Your head moves primarily because of only two upper vertebrae. These two bones connect your skull to your cervical vertebrae. That’s why they have unique names. The first cervical vertebra is called the atlas. The second one is the axis or odontoid vertebra.
The least movable part of the spine is the thoracic area. Since these vertebrae are connected to the chest and ribs, their movement is limited in comparison with the cervical and lumbar spines. That’s why cervical and lumbar osteochondrosis occurs more frequently than thoracic osteochondrosis.
If you look at a healthy person’s spine, you will notice right away that the back is curved. You’ll see that the curve in the thoracic spine is directed backwards. This is called kyphosis. Cervical and lumbar vertebrae are situated on a line curving forward. This is called lordosis. The sacrum is curved too, but you can’t see it because the curve is located deep within the pelvic bones and is surrounded by muscles.
It’s important that when a child is born, that the spine has no curves. It is totally straight. But when a child starts holding its head up, at approximately the age of three months, cervical lordosis appears. At the age of about six months, most children can sit up alone, and have developed thoracic kyphosis. At the age of about one year, a healthy child can stand and starts walking. By now, lumbar lordosis is completely formed.
I guess everyone understands that spinal curvatures appear as a result of the influence of gravity on the body. When these curves have not yet developed, you must not hurry your child to stand or walk! That’s why various devices that put a little child in a standing position too early are extremely harmful. Everyone has their own inner developmental plan. Children start walking only when their ligaments, muscles, and spinal joints are ready. The longer your child crawls, the healthier their spine will be.
Two massive bones of the body, the skull at the top and the hip bone with its tailbone at the bottom are connected by movable vertebrae that have three movable curves. The spinal column is able to alleviate the vibration and force that are caused by walking, and the head is kept in a balanced position with the help of these “magical” curves. Of course, the sizes of these curves can be different. We’ll talk about that in the next chapter.
- The spine is the primary part of the skeleton that forms the posture.
- To move correctly, the spine maintains multi-directional curves.
- Natural curves of the spine form during the first year of life.