Introduction to the Back and Its Curvatures (Nursing)

by Darren Salmi, MD, MS

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    00:01 All right, welcome back, and welcome to the back.

    00:05 Today we're going to talk about the vertebral column, and the regional variation across the vertebral column.

    00:11 We're going to talk about the curvatures that exist in the vertebral column, we're going to talk about the parts of individual vertebra, and how the vertebra differ in different regions of the vertebral column.

    00:25 We're also going to talk about how the spinal cord fits into the vertebral column.

    00:29 We're going to talk about the joints that exist along the vertebral column.

    00:34 We're gonna talk about how the back can move.

    00:37 And finally, the muscles that help with the movement and stabilization of the back.

    00:43 So the back does a lot for us.

    00:45 It provides postural support.

    00:48 So even when we're not moving, it's helping to keep us in a very neutral position using the least amount of energy possible.

    00:56 The back is also what connects to the limbs and helps coordinate all of our movements, especially running and walking.

    01:06 Finally, the vertebral column is the bony structure and support that protects our spinal cord.

    01:13 So let's talk about that bony support.

    01:16 Namely, we're going to talk about the vertebral column something known as the backbone.

    01:21 And backbone in everyday usage is used to describe something that's very essential, like saying nursing is the backbone of healthcare.

    01:30 And that's because the back, in this case, the vertebral column really connects all of the various parts of our body.

    01:37 But it's not a single bone, as the name backbone would imply.

    01:41 It's made up of several bones or vertebra.

    01:44 So we have seven vertebra in the cervical spine, we have twelve in the thoracic spine, and we have five in the lumbar spine.

    01:55 Down towards the bottom, we have the sacrum, which is actually five fused vertebra, and the coccyx, which is between 3-5 fused vertebra as well.

    02:05 The backbone is also not straight up and down as you might have imagined it because people have probably told you, "Hey, sit up straight or stand up straight." Well, our vertebral column isn't perfectly straight.

    02:17 At least it becomes curved over time.

    02:20 We get this curvature of the thoracic spine called kyphosis, where it bends somewhat posteriorly, relatively early in development.

    02:31 Then we get this curvature in the opposite direction called lordosis up in the cervical spine, where the bend is pointing more anteriorly.

    02:42 And then the last to develop with upright positioning and walking is lumbar lordosis.

    02:49 Again, lordosis, meaning curvature where it's pointing anteriorly.

    02:52 But this time, down in the lumbar spine.

    02:56 And all this talk about posture and curvatures has probably got you thinking, "Oh, I've been hunching this whole time.

    03:02 And now I'm suddenly aware of my posture." And that's one of the important roles of the back is to provide you with your good posture.

    03:10 Even I'm starting to stand up a little bit more straight now that I think about it.

    03:15 And the curvatures that exist, put you into what we would say an ideal alignment, so that you're putting the least amount of stress and strain on your joints, and not taxing your stabilizing muscles too much.

    03:30 With let's say maybe a lot of looking down at your cell phone and hunching forward of your shoulders, you can get an exaggerated curvature of the thoracic region, we will call an exaggerated kyphosis.

    03:44 And so that you don't basically fall over you get an exaggeration of the lordosis in the lumbar area as well to compensate for it.

    03:54 Conversely, some people have what's called a flat back where they do have a straight up and down spine.

    04:01 And that's not good either everything out of its normal positioning and start to not only put stress and strain on the joints, but wear out the muscles that are trying to stabilize the body in this less natural position.

    04:17 But those are all on the sagittal view.

    04:19 What about in a coronal view? So you can also have abnormal curvatures in the coronal plane, or curvatures that go out laterally and that's something called Scoliosis.

    04:32 Typically, in a coronal view, the spine is straight up and down.

    04:36 There is no lateral curvature.

    04:38 Scoliosis, on the other hand, can cause so much curvature that can actually in some cases make it hard to breathe, requiring a surgical correction as you can see in the X-ray here.

    04:49 More commonly, the use of braces can help correct and reduce and hopefully eliminate any sort of lateral curvature that exists in the spine.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Introduction to the Back and Its Curvatures (Nursing) by Darren Salmi, MD, MS is from the course Anatomy of the Musculoskeletal System (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Postural support
    2. Movement
    3. Protection of the spinal cord
    4. Control of thoughts
    5. Control of breathing
    1. C1–C7
    2. C3–C10
    3. C10–C20
    4. C1–C12
    1. T1–T12
    2. T1–T9
    3. T1–T15
    4. T1–T5

    Author of lecture Introduction to the Back and Its Curvatures (Nursing)

     Darren Salmi, MD, MS

    Darren Salmi, MD, MS

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