This will be a fun anatomy lesson for all you kids out there. Your spine is made up of 24 movable segments, or vertebra. This does not include your hips and tailbone (ilium and sacrum are the correct anatomical terms). Each of these bones can become subluxated or misaligned and cause pain. But what is really causing the pain when the bones are “out of place?”
There are two factors to consider. We will start with the nerve. When the bone rotates out of position it can put pressure on the nerve root. This compression can result in pain, in addition to other symptoms, but for simplicity we will stick with pain for this blog article. Once the nerve starts to become compressed it releases chemical signals to start inflammation and swelling which is your body’s way of protecting itself. Inflammation works as a cushion or “cast” like protection to limit the range of motion of this joint and help prevent further injury to the nerve. Think of it this way, when you jam your finger playing basketball or catching a football it swells immediately. This is the inflammation that is protecting that joint to immobilize it until it can heal. Our bodies are amazing!
The second factor that causes pain in your spinal joints is inflammation in the joint itself. There are three joints at each level of your spine. One is called the intervertebral disc and then there are two facet joints (the anatomical term is zygapophyseal joints if you really want to impress your friends at the cook out this weekend). This inflammation causes pain in the joint that feels like a bruise which is why you can push on the inflamed joint and make it hurt.
Ice is the best type of home therapy for these conditions. Chiropractic adjustments will help by correcting the misalignment of your spine. The adjustment will take the pressure off the nerve and correct the joint which will decrease the pressure from inflammation.