Your brain appears to be doing nothing while it seems to quietly float in your skull. Yet, it is actively and consistently processing billions of bits of information every second about what is going on, in and around your body. From your heartbeat to what to wear, it is your brain that helps you remember millions of memories and express all the moods, emotions, feelings, and experiences that make you unique.
At the bottom of your skull is a large hole called the “foramen magnum” – your brain extends through this hole as a cable of the billions of nerve fibers that become your spinal cord. Spinal cord nerves help connect your brain to your heart, lungs, arms, and legs – which is how you know there is a mosquito on your leg. Your have 45 miles of nerves in your body. Over 3 million messages per second ae delivered through your nervous system. You are covered in nerves!
Your spinal cord and brain are extremely delicate. Your brain is surrounded by hard bone to help protect from permanent traumas like brain damage, whereas your spinal cord is surrounded by spinal bones that are stacked up similar to a stack of donuts with the center forming a “canal”. However, your spinal bones may slip out of position and cause stress and damage to the same nerves they are designed to protect. That is called a subluxation – locating and treating this nerve damaging condition is exactly what chiropractors are trained for.
Your vertebral (or spinal) column is divided into five sections:
Under your skull is your first cervical vertebra (or atlas). It holds the globe of your skull.
There are twelve thoracic vertebrae – they connect to your ribs and sternum (or breastbone).
Most people have five lumbar vertebrae – they are the thickest and most massive of all your vertebrae. Being at the bottom of your spine they have the most weight to hold up – which is the main reason people experience back pain!
Located under the lumbar vertebrae. It is a triangular shaped bone made up of five fused vertebrae. The sacrum connects to the hips on either side.
The coccyx is located under the sacrum – it is made up of three or four fused vertebrae and is what is left of the human tailbone.
Between most of your vertebrae are discs or pads that are essentially shock absorbers, so your vertebrae will not make contact with each other as you move throughout your day.
In total, your spine has:
- 7 cervical (neck vertebrae)
- 12 thoracic (mid-back) vertebrae
- 5 lumbar (low back) vertebrae
- 1 sacrum (five fused vertebrae)
- 1 coccyx (three or four fused vertebrae)
Your spinal column has four main functions:
- Protecting your brain and spinal column
- Supporting your legs, hips, arms, and shoulders
- Serve as attachments for muscles which allows you to stand and move
- Supporting your head and ribs