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Anatomy of the Spine
Briefly explained, your spine is made up of the following components:
1) Vertebrae – the bones that make up your spine
2) Nerves – your entire nerve system runs through your spine
3) Discs – spongy material that separates your vertebrae, allowing the nerves to run between each bone segment. Discs act like shock absorbers and allow the spine to flex.To understand the sources of your particular back problem and/or how to prevent back pain, it helps to understand the anatomy of your spine
Each vertebrae is held in its proper place by three different kinds of soft tissue-discs, ligaments, and muscles. Almost all back problems are related to the dysfunction of one of these three.
The natural curves of the spine are vitally important for giving your back strength and resilience. There are 24 vertebrae in your spinal column. The lumbar vertebrae are approximately two inches in diameter reflecting their weight-bearing role. The cervical vertebrae are smaller, since they must support only the head.
Facet joints are located in pairs on the back of the spine, where one vertebra slightly overlaps the next.
The facet joints guide and restrict movement of the spine. To the rear of each vertebra is a hole and when the vertebrae are stacked up, these holes form a continuous channel which holds the spinal cord.
The spinal cord provides a vital link between the brain and all body functions below the neck. Spinal nerves emerge from the spinal cord through gaps between the main body of the vertebrae and the facet joints. One frequent cause of back pain is a worn facet joint, which can result in a pinched nerve. Therefore, it is very important to keep your vertebrae in good shape.
Today back pain is one of the most common of all physical complaints in the world. About 70 to 90% of men and women in the U.S. have had or will have a least one bout of incapacitating low back pain. Back pain contributes to lost work time and may cost as much as $100 billion annually (if lost productivity is included).
Low back pain can be acute or chronic, manifesting in the lumbosacral region and associated musculoskeletal structures. Low back pain is extremely prevalent. Low back pain can become a life long struggle. When performing even the simplest tasks of everyday life, we may turn, twist, lift, and either push or pull something the wrong way and be crippled with low back pain that is constant and debilitating in nature.
Low back pain injuries may often be overlooked and under diagnosed. Consequently, the injuries may progress and delayed initiation of appropriate therapy may prolong the treatment course. Low back pain injuries may be as simple as muscle aches or as severe as spinal cord paralysis from lumbar compression secondary to osteoporotic fractures. Spinal decompression is the way to reverse this problem and the best technique known for accomplishing spinal decompression is using an inversion table in the convenience of your home.
A ruptured disc in the back occurs when all or part of the soft, gelatinous central part of the vertebral disc is forced through the bones of the spinal column. What is going on in the body? Sandwiched between the vertebra of the spinal column are discs that act like shock absorbers.A disc is made up of two parts. The outer ring or annulus is a tough, fibrous material. The inner part or nucleus is a soft, jelly-like material. A ruptured disc occurs when the outer ring tears or break, allowing the jelly-like material to poke through the crack.This can result in pressure on nerves, often causing pain. Sometimes leading to sciatica & leg pain. The terms ruptured disc, slipped disc & herniated are often used in the same context.There is an enormous body of evidence that a compressed disc, whether or not it is actually ruptured can be aided byinversion therapy. Inversion increases the intervertebral space and allows the disc to return to is shock absorber and spacer function. Spinal decompression is the way to reverse this problem and the best technique known for accomplishing spinal decompression is using an inversion table in the convenience of your home.
I’m just writing to say how completely happy I am that I bought your F5000 Inversion Table. I was having severe problems with my back. A trip to the Dr. and ultimately an MRI revealed I had severe calcium deposits (from arthritis) built up around my sciatic nerve. This resulted in my having to walk bent over just to slightly reduce the severe pain I was experiencing starting at the buttocks and going all the way down to my ankles. I was really depressed when my orthopedic Dr. was recommending I see a spinal surgeon. After having surgery for both 2 hips and 2 knee replacements I was not exactly enthused about the prospect of back surgery. I told the Dr. I wasn’t ready for that option just yet cause my wife had seen an article on Inversion Tables and how they can help people with herniated discs and sciatic problems. I was skeptical but when I saw your free trial offer, I figured what have I got to lose, so I bought the F5000 Inversion Table. At first I didn’t think it helped, however after just 2 weeks use I could walk upright again and have very little to no pain any longer. Don’t know how long this table will help me, but each day I can put off back surgery I’m thankful for.
Feel free to use this testimonial. I’m thankful I listened to my wife and decided to try this table.
John A. Tisevich – 8/3/2003
Testimonial as to the benefits of inversion therapy
The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body – about as big around as your finger. They start in the lower spine, pass behind the hip joint, and go down the buttock and back of the leg to the foot. Pain from this nerve, called sciatica, may be felt from the hip to the big toe.
Along with aging, most causes of low back pain are from sprains and strains. These injuries are usually from repetitive motions and lifting. Other causes of low back are osteoathritis, muscle spasms and sciatica (herniated disc). Metabolic bone disease, such as osteoporosis can cause debilitating back pain. Spine fracture from trauma, cauda equina syndrome (spinal stenosis) spondylisis, ankylosing spondylitis, benign and malignant metastatic tumors can also cause low back pain. Infection, connective tissue disorders, abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), hyperparathyroidism, and nephrolithias are also considered possible causes of low back pain. (4)
What causes sciatica?
Sometimes the nerve is pinched between vertebrae, or its passageways are narrowed by arthritis or swelling of a sprained ligament in the area, and it becomes irritated and tender. A disk (the cushion between the vertebrae) may bulge out of place and press on the nerve. Rarely, an abscess, blood clot, or growth may push on the nerve. At times, no exact cause is found, but a movement that is normally harmless (such as bending over) suddenly brings on violent pain.
Is sciatica different from other types of back pain?
Yes, although low back pain often comes with it. Usually, sciatica affects only one side. Pain often radiates down the buttock or leg. It can range from a tingling, burning, pins-and-needles feeling to excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing up nearly impossible. Coughing, sneezing, and sitting make the pain worse. Your leg or foot may be numb or weak and have odd sensations in it. You may be unable to move your foot or bend your knee. Spinal decompression is the way to reverse this problem and the best technique known for accomplishing spinal decompression is using an inversion table in the convenience of your home.
In most cases sciatica as well as cervical disc compression is a mechanical problem. Probably the best mechanical solution in the world is an inversion table (hanging at mild to moderate angles and including some oscillation) along with an exercise program (see below). This two prong approach works to decompress the the discs which may be desiccated (dried out) due to chronic compression. And to balance out the muscle strength in the front , back, left and right sides of the pelvis to reduce pelvic tilt.
The Inversion Table company has been working with back pain sufferers for about 25 years and the feedback we have received from the more than 7,500 people we have sold tables to are testimony to how well inversion therapy works.
Traction was the therapy of choice by the medical profession for hundreds if not thousands of years. It is amazing how often they overlook this simple therapy in this age of drugs and surgery.
Another component of healing and regeneration is nutrition. Our company has also been involved in the field of nutritional supplements for many, many years. There is a very compelling argument made by researchers & nutritionists that many if not most people are mineral deficient. The bases for this claim is that plants are grown with synthetic fertilizers on mineral depleted soils. The best mineral supplement we have ever found that has resulted in improved health for thousands and thousands of people is Essential Minerals. They are derived from organic plants and have about 70 major and trace minerals that are easy to absorb in a delicious lemon-lime drink. For any health plan to be most effective it is good to know that your basic nutritional needs are covered. We would also recommend Essential Calcium.
Remember many of our back & other problems are due to gravity’s chronic downward pull on our bodies. Often causing COMPRESSED OR PINCHED NERVES leading to SCIATICA. Hang Ups inversion tables can assist in reversing this compression. Also keep in mind that before surgery became so popular for back problems TRACTION was the therapy of choice. Gravity traction gives the user total control and the results we have seen are impressive. Along with INVERSION THERAPY we encourage people to be sure they have bilateral symmetry in the muscle strength that holds the pelvis & back in alignment. Doing the exercised below may help achieve this bilateral symmetry. PELVIC TILT is often a condition that happens along with compressed discs and pinched nerves. Often leading to one leg being shorter than the other or exacerbating a leg length difference. For example after some trauma such as an auto accident the body goes into a protective mode and certain muscles may tense up. The pelvis may tilt left to right or front to back or both. This tilt affects the entire alignment of the spine. This alignment affects how the vertebra may impinge on the nerves. Inversion can usually increase the intervertebral space and relieve the direct pressure on the nerve. But in order to get a more complete correction the muscles that align the pelvis must be equally balanced and strong on both sides. There are many exercises that can assist in this effort. Four that we have found very beneficial are:1. All Fours Leg Thrust – Get on all fours like you are going to crawl. Thrust out the right leg up and back & then the left. You may want to do 10 reps with each leg. It is good to vary the position of the foot so it is sometimes perpendicular to the ground and sometimes parallel to the ground. Start out with a mild workout and if well tolerated work these muscles everyday until they are quite strong.
2. Standing Leg Thrust – This is a variation on All Fours Leg Thrust. You can do this standing. Hold on to a sturdy dresser or table about waste or abdomen high. Lean forward and kick your leg back and up as if you are trying to kick someone directly behind you. It is good to vary the position of the foot so it is sometimes perpendicular to the ground and sometimes parallel to the ground. Do an equal number of reps with each leg. Try if you can to work up to the point that when you kick your leg out it is parallel to the ground.
3. Stair Climbing – Start gradually and work up to a 5-10 story building 2-4 times a week.
These exercises work directly on the gluteus maximus, psoas and other muscles to help strengthen & balance the muscles that if imbalanced can tilt the pelvis & exacerbate compressed disc & irritated nerve problems.
4. Swimming – This is a marvelous way to get good exercise that is easy on the joints and can relax, strengthen and balance the muscular system that aligns and effects the spine. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction which is different from sciatica responds very well to swimming as well. Sacroiliac is actually a sacroiliaitis or inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum (triangular bone at the bottom of the spine) with the pelvis (iliac bone). It transmits all the forces of the upper body to the pelvis and legs. There is not a lot of motion in the joint and it is very strong. Sometimes all it takes to create a sacroiliac problem is to lift something the wrong way. Sacroiliac tends to be a self limiting problem that usually will self correct within a few weeks. After the initial acute phase (where ice is recommended) a great therapy is first relax in a hot tub then swim for while.
5. Bike Riding – Especially up hills. Regular bike riding works mostly the calves & thighs. Although an excellent exercise that may be quite beneficial for the body in general and specifically good for movement in the sacroilliac joint and circulation that may benefit the discs – regular bike riding does not adequately work the muscles that are needed in order to align the pelvis. When you are working hard riding a bike up hill or are in a high gear where you may need to come off the seat you are then working the proper muscles for bilateral symmetry & alignment.
These and other exercises may not be possible until after using the inversion table a while. Using the table properly should increased the intervertebral space & relieve the pressure on the nerve. Once the disc has had the pressure relieved it can usually start to regain is spongy shock absorber properties and exercises such as these can be eased into.
*** Don’t Forget Low Back Support ***
Whether you are sitting in a chair, driving your car or on an airplane be sure to give your low back strong support with a proper lumbar supporting chair or a pillow. In an ideal sitting position the lumbar arch should be maintained. Allowing the shoulders to come forward and the low back to sag puts extra pressure on the lumbar region which may exacerbate low back problems. According to the Nachemson Study sitting in a chair creates about 50% more intradiscal pressure than standing upright.
For more in-depth study on back pain, sciatica, scoliosis etc. see the research work of Nachemson: National Center for Biotechnology Information U.S. National Library of Medicine Click Here
Everyone’s spine has natural curves.
These curves round our shoulders and make our lower back curve slightly inward. But some people have spines that also curve from side to side. Unlike poor posture, these curves can’t be corrected simply by learning to stand up straight.
This condition of side-to-side spinal curves is called scoliosis. On an x-ray, the spine of a person with scoliosis looks more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line. Some of the bones in a scoliotic spine also may have rotated slightly, making the person’s waist or shoulders appear uneven.
We have found in working with doctors & their patients for more than 20 years that inversion therapy can be a great adjunct in the treatment of scoliosis. In children as well as teens and adults the symptoms associated with scoliosis in many many cases are reduced when a person receives the benefits of gravity traction. In conjunction with stretching, exercises and inversion therapy we have also taken note of the benefits of daily deep muscle massage. This is easy to achieve with an electronic massager or very effectively with BONGERS Massage Tools. Also if muscles are particularly affected and a doctor is advised, in many cases a moist heat hydrocollator can be of great benefit.
We have had reports from people who have used gravity inversion therapy for scoliosis and reduced pain symptoms in their lower backs they had previously accepted as chronic and intractable. They did not correlate these symptoms with the scoliosis but when they achieved benefits from the gravity inversion therapy they started for scoliosis a side or direct benefit was a relief from chronic low back pain that had become so common that they did not even realize how uncomfortable it was until it disappeared.
Can inversion help children with scoliosis? Does age matter?
Our medical advisor prefers to get patients involved with inversion as early as possible. Using inversion to help slow or reverse the effects of scoliosis is helpful at any age, but especially before the bones fully harden at ages 12-14. The size of the equipment may be an issue, so younger children will need an attendant. Children love inversion and many many scoliosis patients report excellent results after starting inversion therapy. It is a great way for parents to get involved in assisting their child. Also don’t forget to be sure your child has excellent nutritional support. Three fantastic supplements that are great for anyone are Essential Minerals, Essential Calcium & Essential Vitamins.
There are many causes of scoliosis. Some causes may be problematic for inversion (bone infection, cancer, compression fracture). Most scoliosis in children is related to bone anomalies or calcification disorders, both of which do well with inversion. Of course, if you have any doubt, you should always consult with a licensed physician.
We have found the stretch & straightening of inversion therapy to be beneficial in working with people with scoliosis. Many physicians who use inversion therapy recommend getting patients involved while they are still young and bones have not fully matured. Here are some useful links if you would like to learn more about scoliosis:
Scoliosis Research Society
Amazon Scoliosis Reading List
Excellent nutrition is of course important in trying to prevent or correct a musculoskelital problem. The best calcium supplement we have found is Essential Calcium. Nutritious, delicious and easy to take as a sparkling beverage. And to be sure the body has the proper mineral balance we recommend the best selling liquid mineral supplement in North America – Essential Minerals.
Inversion Therapy And Scoliosis
One example of the many testimonials about scoliosis we have received.
The pediatrician who had sent our daughter to the Scottish Rite hospital because she had a bit of a curvature in her spine, saw her for his referral last week. He was amazed at how straight her back was and asked her how she did it. She said that when she started using the inversion table, that in just a few months her shoulders were level and she had no more trouble will ill-fitting clothes due to one shoulder lower than the other – great, huh!?
Martha Ylitalo – 4-15-04
Before starting any exercise or therapeutic program it is recommended you check with your doctor and begin any new activity very gradually. In rare instances back pain is a symptom of a serious medical condition such as a kidney tumor or cancer. Even medical doctors sometimes make this mistake. We have seen cases of people being medicated for back pain when the actual problem was more serious. PLEASE BE AWARE
There are 26 vertebrae in your back which encase your spinal cord. In childhood there are 33 vertebrae they fuse into 26.
1 sacral (5 fused into one bone, the sacrum)
and 1 coccygeal
(4 fused into one bone the coccyx).
Spinal nerves run through each vertebral joint in your spinal column.
An imbalance or weakness in the strength of the muscles can affect the alignment of the spine & pelvis. A bilateral imbalance in this muscle strength (often the gluteus maximus) can lead to a tilting of the pelvis & nerve pain.
The combination of proper exercise, nutrition and inversion therapy can greatly improve the quality of our general health and especially reduce or reverse previously intractable back problems.
Middle ear infection
Severe vascular disease
Anti-Coagulants (use of)
Conjunctivitis – (pink eye)
Bone weakness, recent fractures
History of congestive heart failureThis is not an exhaustive list. It is intended only for your reference. Please use good judgment and check with you doctor if you have any questions. History of space-occupying brain lesion Vulnerable areas of stress from recent surgeryContraindications
Inversion therapy can provide innumerable benefits to your health. Inversion can relieve back pain, decompress the spine, stretch muscles and ligaments, relieve stress, improve circulation and help maintain overall good health.
However, inversion is not for everyone. If you have any of the following health conditions, please do not invert without your licensed physician’s approval (this is not an exhaustive list – it is intended only for your reference.)Anti-Coagulants (Use of): Blood-thinning drugs or aspirin to reduce clotting of the arteries and blood vessels. The use of anti-cogulants signals people at risk for circulatory problems. Advise speaking with a physician before inverting.
Bone weakness, recent fractures, skeletal implants: Having a person’s weight pulling down when inverted may exacerbate these conditions. Osteoporosis is a calcium deficiency disease in which the bones become porous, brittle, and very weak. Advise speaking with a physician before inverting.
Conjunctivitis – (Pink eye): An inflammation of the transparent membrane that covers the front surface of the eyeball and the inner surface of the eyelids caused by bacterial or viral infection. Advise speaking with a physician before inverting.
Glaucoma: A condition of elevated pressure within the eye because of an obstruction of the outflow of the clear, watery fluid circulating in the chambers of the eye. The resulting pressure (which is imperceptible without an eye exam) kills cells in the optic nerve, which can lead to a gradual loss of vision. Anyone with an eye condition should speak with a physician before inverting.
Heart / circulatory disorders: Any condition involving the circulatory system. Speak with a physician before inverting.
Hiatal hernia, ventral hernia: A hiatal hernia occurs when intra-abdominal pressure increases cause a portion of the stomach to move into the chest cavity through a weakness in the diaphragm. A ventral hernia develops at the site of previous surgery, usually along vertical incisions. It may also result from weakness in the abdominal wall. Advise speaking with a physician before inverting.
Middle ear infection: The middle ear helps equalize air pressure in the ear. A person may feel discomfort or disorientation during inversion. Advise speaking with a physician before inverting.
Obesity (extreme): In some people obesity can be associated with the undetected onset of many of the circulatory and eye problems mentioned above. The weight capacity of each of the inversion products should not be exceeded.
Pregnancy: Pregnant women should exercise caution when inverting. Advisable to talk with physician first.
Retinal detachment: A separation of the retina, the thin, delicate membrane covering the rear portion of the eye, from the optic nerve. Usually results from a hole in the retina that allows the vitreous humor fluid to leak. Treatment is almost always surgical. A retinal hemorrhage, in most cases, can heal by itself. Anyone with an eye condition should speak with a physician before inverting.
Spinal injury: Any severe spinal cord trauma requires a person to consult their physician before inverting.
Stroke: Occurs when a blood vessel in the neck or brain becomes blocked or when a vessel in the brain bursts open. Symptoms include paralysis, difficulty speaking, memory loss, and impaired thought processes.
Transient ischemic attack: Often called a “ministroke,” a TIA occurs when the blood supply is temporarily interrupted to a part of the brain due to a blockage. Often precedes the onset of a full stroke, and requires immediate action.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, hypertension: A common disorder in which the heart is pumping blood through the circulatory system with a force greater than that required for normal blood flow. An elevated blood pressure which exceeds 140/90. It is true that certain people should not invert if they have uncontrolled high blood pressure. However, inversion can cause a state of relaxation that results in a drop in heart rate and BP (sometimes even lower than at a resting state). Some doctors have used inversion as a treatment for high BP. Advise speaking with a physician before inverting. Doctors who use inversion will test a patient’s BP as they do a mild inversion.
A Natural Approach To Correcting Back Problems
If you think hanging upside down to relieve back pain is some wacky, new-age idea? Think again. It probably goes back to the dawn of human development. It is easy to imagine an early human with a backache hanging by their knees from a tree branch.
We know that inversion was used at least as early as 400 B.C., when Hippocrates, the father of medicine, first watched a patient have his knees and ankles tied to a ladder to be hoisted upside down for a dose of what has come to be known as inversion therapy.
The Greek theories on inversion are still valid, but today there is a much easier way to relieve the back pains most people experience from time to time. The process is called inversion therapy, and it can be the natural way to a better back and a better body.
Quite simply, inversion allows gravity to help the body to naturally correct and align itself. You stretch out and elongate your spine, get blood to the brain, invert and reposition internal organs, and take stress off of the heart, which usually has to pump blood uphill to the brain.
As with any new exercise program, if someone is in doubt about their level of fitness, or if they are over the age of 40, consult a physician before starting an inversion program. Inversion is not recommended for people with extreme weight problems, those with a history of stroke, acute back injuries, or high blood pressure, and it is very important that people with these conditions consult with their doctor before trying inversion. Also, individuals who have bone disease, retinal detachment, or any other serious eye disorders would be advised to avoid inversion without their doctors permission.