Spinal Structure And How It Affects Your Function

     We always learn how much our mother was right as we get older. Do you remember your mother constantly saying “stand up straight! Don’t slouch!”, it turns out she was right all along. Your spinal structure is one of the most important things that can affect your health. The development of your posture is directly related to the development of your spine. The proper development of your spine results in a group of small bones called vertebrae that are designed to fit together to form an S-shaped structure that has four curves. These curves are arranged in a way that allows your body to evenly distribute its weight along the spine. When one or more of the vertebrae of your spine deviate from their normal alignment, they can place abnormal stress on the muscles, ligaments, and even the nerves that are an extension of your spinal cord and brain. You see, aside from being the main structure of support for your body, the spine serves as protection for the most important system of your body, the nervous system.


The nervous system consist of your brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that branch off your spinal cord that are responsible for connecting your brain to every muscles, tissue, and organ of your body. There are literally billions of signals that leave you brain through your spinal cord and out to the rest of your body that not only allow for proper movement, but also play a crucial role in maintaining proper health through homeostasis. This is why it is so vital that your spine properly develops and is maintained throughout life.


  The first spinal curve to develop is the cervical curve of the neck which is made up of seven vertebrae and develops as a baby learns to lift its head during crawling. The cervical curve is an amazing structure that allows for a wide range of movement in multiple directions which also protects the spinal cord and supports the weight of the skull. the development of the cervical spine in infants can be negatively affected by physical stresses as early as during the birth process. The stress placed on the neck of an infant from the combination of pulling and twisting during physician assisted birth can lead to injuries of the spinal cord and the brainstem which can result in lasting neurological problems. These injuries can result in abnormal spinal development because the primary bone hardening phase of the spine is not complete until approximately 3-6 years of age.

        An abnormally developed cervical spine or loss of optimal curves in the neck can result in several pathologies such as spondylosis, spinal stenosis, myelopathy, disc herniation, radiculitis, and what we in our practice call Atlas Deviation Syndrome. The health problems caused by loss of the cervical curve are well documented in medical literature and textbooks. One of the visible signs of cervical curve loss is forward head syndrome. Your head weighs about 10-14 pounds which is about what a bowling ball weighs. If you’ve ever been bowling, you know that you could probably hold a bowling ball close to your chest and keep it there for about 10 minutes without too much trouble. However, if you tried to hold it out at arms length, you’d quickly start to have arm, shoulder, and even neck pain. This happens because the weight is being carried too far outside your center of gravity. The same principle applies to your head, every inch that your head is carried out in front and away from your center of gravity, adds about 10 pounds to the stress it places on you spine. This head froward syndrome leads to abnormal use/overuse of muscles and ligaments and can leave the spine more prone to further injury. Forward head syndrome is associated with decreased quality of life and higher incidence of TMJ, headaches, ADHD, respiratory disorders, and a decreased lifespan. When this is coupled with further injuries like whiplash, the effects can be devastating to your health.

        Whiplash injuries can have serious implications, even in the absence of visible bruises or cuts. A rear end collision of at least 5mph, is enough to cause permanent damage to the muscles, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, and bones of the cervical spine. Many people who have whiplash injuries further complicate their situation because care is usually not immediately sought. This happens because pain or symptoms are not always initially there until much later. As a matter of fact, 1 in 7 people with whiplash injuries don’t experience pain until 3 years after their injury. This results in 25% of whiplash victims suffering from chronic pain and permanent disability.

        Atlas Deviation Syndrome  is the term applied at Advanced Chiropractic to describe the primary structural deviations of the vertebrae of the spine. Aside from causing abnormal movement which results in joint degeneration, Atlas Deviation Syndrome also interferes with proper signaling of nerve transmission which brings about a state of disharmony or lack of ease in the body. Over time, this lack of ease in the body can be detrimental to your overall health. Since the brain and the rest of the nervous system are responsible for every action that goes on in your body, it is essential that there is no obstruction to the way your brain and body communicate. The science of Structural Chiropractic is focused on locating, analyzing, and correcting primary structural deviations to restore proper motion and optimize the inherent healing capacity of your body. Given time, Structural Chiropractic can improve your posture which results in greater stability, less injury, improved brain to body communication, and a greater expression of your full potential.

        An initial visit with the doctor consist of a thorough consultation to gather your detailed health history. This is important because it may help us to find the origin of your health concerns. Next, an exam is performed in order to assess your spinal structure and see what indicators for Atlas Deviation Syndrome are present in your situation. Your exam findings will lead us know which areas should be focused on. Once this initial visit is complete, we can determine the best course of action and create an individual care plan for your situation and health goals. Remember, your spinal structure is a big part of maintaining and enhancing your quality of life, so be proactive, take action to seek help, and meanwhile...”stand up straight!”.

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