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"Good health is your most precious asset."

Diana Mossop

About The Human Back Region

In Chinese Medicine the back is related to the whole structure. The Governor Meridian and the spine, spinal cord and Central Nervous system

Physical Situations Related To The Human Back Region

Back Pain cuases more hours of lost work than any other trauma


A living bone consists of three layers: the periosteum, or outside Skin of the bone; the hard compact bone; and the bone marrow. If we were to cut a living bone in half, we would see that it contains various layers. First is a layer of thin, whitish skin which is packed with nerves and blood vessels and supplies the cells of which the hard bone below is built. Next is a dense, rigid bone called the compact bone. It is shaped like a cylinder and is so hard that surgeons must use a saw to cut through it. It is honeycombed with thousands of tiny holes and passageways, through which run nerves and blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the bone. This dense layer supports the weight of the body and is made up of mostly calcium and minerals, so that it feels no pain. The "skin," however, is very sensitive, so that when a bone is broken, injured nerve fibers run through the compact bone and send messages which relay the pain signals to the brain. If we cut though the compact bone, we find that its cylinder surrounds and protects the spongy bone marrow which contains a material much like gelatin. This cylinder is the medullary cavity, and is the central cavity of bone shafts. It is where yellow bone marrow (or "adipose") is produced and stored. In infants, the marrow is red because blood cell formation is taking place within these cavities. This marrow produces either red blood cells (which carry oxygen), white blood cells (which fight infection), or platelets (that help stop bleeding). These three bone layers work together with nerve signals which speed back and forth and blood streams which move between the layers. Thighbones are usually stronger, pound for pound, than reinforced concrete. An epiphyseal line refers to a strip of relatively less dense bone found in the long bones.

Spinal Nerves

Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves originate from the spinal cord. They are all mixed nerves, and they provide a two-way communication system between the spinal cord and parts of the arms, legs, neck and trunk of the body. Although spinal nerves do not have individual names, they are grouped according to the level from which they stem, and each nerve is numbered in sequence. Hence, there are eight pairs of "cervical nerves" (numbered C1 - C8), twelve pairs of "thoracic nerves" (T1 - T12), five pairs of "lumbar nerves" (L1 - L5), five pairs of "sacral nerves" (S1 - S5), and one pair of "coccygeal nerves". The nerves coming from the upper part of the spinal cord pass outward nearly horizontally, while those from the lower regions descend at sharp angles. This is derived from the consequence of growth. In early life, the spinal cord extends the entire length of the vertebral column, but with age, the column grows faster than the cord. As a result, the adult spinal cord ends at the level between the first and second lumbar vertebrae, so the lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal nerves descend to their exits beyond the end of the cord.

Spine, Vertebra and Disk

The spine is a column of bone and cartilage that extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis. It encloses and protects the spinal cord and supports the trunk of the body and the head. The spine is made up of approximately thirty-three bones called "vertebrae." Each pair of vertebrae is connected by a joint which stabilizes the vertebral column and allows it to move. Between each pair of vertebrae is a disk-shaped pad of fibrous cartilage with a jelly-like core, which is called the "intervertebral" disk - or usually just the "disk". These disks cushion the vertebrae during movement. The entire spine encloses and protects the spinal cord, which is a column of nerve tracts running from every area of the body to the brain. The vertebrae are bound together by two long, thick ligaments running the entire length of the spine and by smaller ligaments between each pair of vertebrae. The anterior longitudinal ligament consists of strong, dense fibers, located inside the bodies of the vertebrae. They span nearly the whole length of the spine, beginning with the second vertebrae (or "axis"), and extending to the sacrum. The ligament is thicker in the middle (or "thoracic" region). Some of the shorter fibers are separated by circular openings, which allow for the passage of blood vessels. Several groups of muscles are also attached to the vertebrae, and these control movements of the spine as well as to support it. Quasimodo, the central character of Victor Hugo's novel, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," is probably the most famous of all real or fictional sufferers of "kyphosis," an abnormal, backward curvature of the spine.

Trapezius Muscle

The trapezius is a flat, triangular muscle that covers the back of the neck, shoulders and thorax. The upper and lower fibers are important to the orientation of the shoulder blade (scapula). The upper part, acting alone, elevates the shoulder and braces the shoulder girdle when a weight is carried. The lower part draws the scapula downward. When both of these muscles act together, the scapula can be brought toward the body and the head can draw directly backward.


A typical vertebra has a drum-shaped "body" (centrum) that forms a thick, anterior portion of the bone. A longitudinal row of the bodies supports the weight of the head and trunk. The intervertebral disks, which separate joining vertebrae, are fastened to the roughened upper and lower surfaces of the bodies. These disks cushion and soften the forces created by walking and jumping, which might otherwise fracture the vertebrae or jar the brain. Each intervertebral disk is composed of a band of fibrous fibrocartilage (anulus fibrosus) that surrounds a gelatinous core, called the "nucleus pulposus." The bodies of adjacent vertebrae are joined on the front surfaces by "anterior ligaments" and on the back by "posterior ligaments." Projecting from the back of each body are two short stalks called "pedicles." They form the sides of the "vertebral foramen." Two plates (laminae) arise from the pedicles and fuse in the back to become "spinous process." The pedicles, laminae, and spinous process together complete a bony vertebral arch around the vertebral opening, through which the spinal cord passes. Between the pedicles and laminae of a typical vertebra is a "transverse process" that projects laterally and toward the back. Various ligaments and muscles are attached to the spinal process and the transverse process. Projecting upward and downward from each vertebral arch are "superior" and "inferior articulating processes." These processes bear cartilage-covered facets by which each vertebra is joined to the one above and the one below it. On the surfaces of the vertebral pedicles are notches that align to create openings, called "intervertebral foramina." These openings provide passageways for spinal nerves that proceed between joining vertebrae and connect to the spinal cord.

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