Dr. Brady the 'Spine Guy'
Halloween is upon us again. Let's talk about your skeleton.
What a magnificent piece of bio-engineering is the bunch of bones we call our skeleton. It holds us up against gravity, it allows us to bend and twist through an amazing range of motion and it is extremely strong. There are 206 bones in the body and about half of them are in the hands and the feet. There are "long" bones, and there are "flat" bones. Long bones are those that are mostly in your arms, legs, hands and feet. Flat bones are your skull, shoulder blades, ribs and hip bones. Your spine seems to be a combination of long and flat bones. Bones don't just hold you up, they also produce blood cells and store calcium. Bones respond to how much stress they are under, and the amount of calcium in a healthy young bone is determined by how much work the bone has to do and how much effect gravity is having on the body. If you went up in space for a long time without gravity the calcium would slowly come out of the bones and you would develop temporary osteoporosis. As soon as you got back to earth and were subjected to gravity again the calcium would be replaced back into the bones.
Bones are held together by ligaments, which attach one bone to another bone. Tendons also attach to bones at one end but the other end usually attaches to a muscle. Cartilage is also attached to bone, but is located in a joint and it acts as either a smooth gliding surface for the joint to move freely without any restriction or to keep the joint from shifting out of position. There is a capsule around all the joints that holds fluid that acts as a lubricant. Discs, like the ones between your vertebrae act as cushions on the one hand to keep the vertebra apart and as a ligament on the other hand, to keep the vertebra together. When the disc gets distorted or there is more weight bearing on one side than the other it might bulge and put pressure on the nerve root. This causes a lot of pain and muscle tension. After about the age of 21 or so, all the blood supply to these "connective tissues" is slowly and naturally shut off, and healing and regeneration is negligible. This is what contributes to a lot of the arthritis we suffer as we get older.
Your skeleton is designed in such a way as to distribute your weight equally from the top down, so with good posture, when your weight gets to your feet there should be equal weight in each foot with your center of gravity falling right in the center, whether you are being evaluated front to back or side to side.
When you are born, your bones do not have any calcium in them and they are very much like cartilage. Calcium starts to be deposited at a very early age in things called "calcium centers" or "growth centers" and by the time you stop growing, all the bones have been fully calcified. Some bones in your body are not there when you are born but develop due to necessity. Your kneecaps are biggest of these "sesamoid" bones.
Bone cells replace themselves approximately every 7 years. (The longest lasting regenerating cells in the body) If an imbalance or misalignment lasts longer than 7 years it takes longer to restore the skeleton back to normal.
As a chiropractor I spend my time assessing the bones of the skeleton for balance, alignment and damage due to injuries and wear and tear. And trying to figure out how to get them realigned so as to minimize the pain and muscle spasm that is often associated with imbalance and misalignment. Correcting misalignments and subluxations also minimizes any potential damage to the joints.
If you look in a full length mirror and you look a little "crooked", it might be time to have your skeleton evaluated and find out if Chiropractic could help you.
Thank you and I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween, again.
Terence G. Brady, DC