back inversion table

Throughout our lives gravity takes a toll on our spines and causes compression, this can cause you to experience things like back pain, neck pain and poor posture.  Chiropractors use a technique call spinal decompression to reverse the effects caused by gravity and help create space between the bones along your spine.

A chiropractor will use an inversion table to do that but most people don’t have the room nor can they afford to have an inversion table at home.  Let’s look at how to decompress your spine without an inversion table and still feel great.

A Word of Caution

According to Dr Erik Nabeta, a chiropractor in Oakville, “While many people can benefit from spinal decompression and it helps them to relieve back pain it is not for everyone.  Decompression can relieve some of the pressure on your discs and improve pain but if you have had spinal surgery, disc replacements or you suffer from osteoporosis then you should not try decompression.”

Always consult your doctor or chiropractor before trying this at home.

How to do Spinal Decompression at Home

Overhead Stretches:  This is a simple stretch where you start with your feet shoulder-width apart, lace your fingers together and stretches them overhead with your arms completely straight.  Hold this position for roughly 30 seconds and repeat it several times throughout your day.

Child’s Pose:  This is a very easy yoga position that almost anyone can get into.  Start on your hands and knees on the floor or a yoga mat, move your bottom back so that it is on your heels, stretch your arms out in front of you towards the opposite wall and relax into the position.  You can rest here for 10-20 seconds.  This is a great stretching exercise for after a workout.

Cat Cow Stretch:  This is another easy yoga pose to do along with child’s pose.  Again you start out on your hands and knees, knees directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.  You simply arch your back up like a cat putting your head towards the floor.  Next lift your head up and arch your back in the opposite direction towards the floor.  You can repeat this exercise a number of times throughout the day.

Bar Hang:  For this exercise you will need a pull up bar, you can grab one at a fitness store that will work with a door frame.  You simply reach up and grab hold of the bar and slowly hang from the bar.  Gradually using more of your body weight to hang, take a few deep breaths and try and hold it for 30 seconds or as long as you feel comfortable.  This is probably one of the more difficult spinal decompression exercises and if you feel uncomfortable in the slightest then it is time to stop.

These are some easy exercises that you can do at home to help stretch out and decompress your spine.

Under Which Circumstances Should You Suspect a Spinal Injury

There are many types of spinal injuries that we are all susceptible to as humans. There are various factors that can influence these injuries. They include age, fitness level, type of work, etc. I’ll go over each of these factors and provide some symptoms that may be associated with spinal injuries.

Age

This is one of the biggest factors when it comes to spinal “injuries”. I put injuries in quotes because most of the time when middle-aged or elderly folk complain of back problems, it is most likely a deteriorating issue. By deteriorating I mean that the discs within the spine will become smaller and less cushioned over time, sometimes resulting in bone on bone contact. There are also arthritic changes in which the spinal bones are directly affected. Along with that, spinal stenosis occurs over time and causes the canal in which the spinal cord runs through to become thinner and eventually can squeeze the spinal cord. This can result in serious radiating pain spreading throughout the lower back and down through the legs, or even in the neck region and spread down the arms.

Fitness level

Many people also get injured while working out or can even get injured because they don’t work out. One of the most important factors that can help prevent spinal injuries includes core strength. With a stronger core, you are less likely to injure your spine. Some people who disregard their core and still workout heavily will injure their back and sometimes “slip a disc”. This is considered a disc herniation and usually presents symptoms of radiating pain from a certain point on the spine, through the buttocks and down one or both legs. Younger people with this type of injury will usually have the pain increase by moving into flexion, which for example would be leaning over to try and touch the floor. Symptoms are often temporarily relieved by moving the back into extension, which would be arching the back inwards.

Type of work

This factor is most relevant to both lower and upper spinal injuries. For the most part, if you do hard labor, you are more likely to experience a lower back injury because of the constant lifting of objects. People that sit at a desk all day (which is constant flexion of the back) can definitely experience those injuries as well. If you are in a profession that involves lifting overhead or looking down at a screen or a phone constantly, you are more likely to experience an upper back injury. Injuries of the spine in the neck region will usually give you pain in the shoulder blades and/or down one or both arms. Whether this is a herniated disc or a nerve being pinched, very similar symptoms will be present.

Along with these factors and the most notable symptoms, there are more to touch up on. Injuries to the upper spine will sometimes cause severe headaches or migraines. Along with that, there can be spinal fractures after being struck in the back. Usually these are small chips in the vertebrae and can present symptoms that include muscle soreness, numbness, and tingling throughout the back and other regions. For the most part, however, spinal injuries are most associated with the discs, the spinal cord, and the nerves around them.

What is a Hemangioma on the Spine?

Hemangioma sounds like something very scary but in fact it is just a benign tumor that develops from blood vessels.  You will often see them on a newborn’s skin as a red birthmark that fades over time.  However these benign tumors can form on your internal organs as will including your spine.  So what is a hemangioma on the spine and are they dangerous?

Spinal Hemangiomas

Spinal hemangiomas are fairly common with roughly 10% of the population having them, they are the most common of all spinal tumors.  They will most likely develop in the lower spine or upper to mid spine.  It is extremely rare to get a hemangioma in the bones of your neck.  Most people are completely unaware that they have one and often they are discovered during some other procedure.  The only time that they require any treatment is if they are causing you pain or discomfort.

Symptoms of Spinal Hemangioma

Most of these tumors cause absolutely no symptoms at all but on the rare occasion that you do have symptoms the most common is pain.  There are millions of nerves in your spine and if the tumor grows it can put pressure on the nerves nearby.  This pain can travel to the arms and legs, you can suffer from weakness or numbness in your limbs.  If your vertebrae becomes weakened by the hemangioma you can end up with a compression fracture.  In the worst case scenario you can have bleeding that compresses the nerves around the spinal cord.  Here is a closer look at how neurosurgeons diagnose spinal tumors.

Causes and Diagnoses of Hemangiomas

Most of the time a hemangioma is only diagnosed in middle age and they happen to both men and women, however women have symptoms more often.  To diagnose a hemangioma it is going to take a MRI or a CT scan to find them.  For hemangiomas that will require surgery you may need an angiogram so that your surgeon knows exactly where the blood vessels lie.

Treating a Hemangioma

Treatment can vary but it will depend on things like your health, where exactly the tumor is located and the symptoms you are suffering from.  It is very rare that a spinal hemangioma even needs treatment at all but in those rare cases treatment can include embolization, radiation therapy and kyphoplasty.  Your neurosurgeon will discuss your options with you along with the best course of treatment.

When Does the Spine Stop Growing?

It is fascinating watching children grow up and how growth occurs, from early fetal development all the way through to adulthood.  If you have children then you know how fast they can go through shoes and clothes.  Medically speaking different parts of the body develop at different rates, for example your head finishes growing fairly early, within your first couple of years but when does the spine stop growing?  Let’s take a look at growth and development and try and answer this question.

Pediatrics and Development

It is the study of childhood development and growth that attracts many medical students to the field of pediatrics.  One of the first things that your child’s doctor will check when you bring your kids in for a check-up is their growth.  The checkup will take into account things like height and weight and measure it against the average of children in the same age group.

Abnormalities in the Spine

The spine is one of the most complex parts of the entire body.  It is an integral part of both the skeletal system and your nervous system.  Your spine is what allows you to walk upright and it carries signals from the brain to your entire body.  Abnormalities in the growth spine can cause a plethora of problems in the body, skeletal issues, muscle development and problems with your nerves.  There have been countless studies by pediatricians all over the world looking at what constitutes normal and abnormal spine growth in children.

Normal Spinal Development

There are more than 20 different measurements that determine whether spinal growth is proceeding as normal and whether there are any issues affecting spinal growth.  It should be noted that just like girls stop growing in height earlier than boys so too does their spines stop growing earlier than a boys does.  A girls’ spine will stop growing around the age of 14 whereas a boy will continue growing until they are roughly 18 years old.

During this research that studies spinal growth in children documented some interesting developments.  Growth that affects your range of motion is all done by the time you are nine years old but it will still grow in length.  Most of the growth in your spine, more than 70% happens in the bottom 5 vertebrae.

So to finally answer the question “when does the spine stop growing” the answer is about 14 for girls and about 18 for boys, although growth of the spine is far more complicated than that.