By SEAN ROWLEY
The human spine contains 24 vertebrae, connected by ligaments and muscles. The entire structure is called the spinal column.
The spine is divided into three sections - cervical, thoracic and lumbar - and a chiropractic patient can often describe pain as originating in the respective upper, middle or lower back.
Back pain often radiates from misaligned vertebrae into the back, shoulders, neck and buttocks, because patients are unable to adequately relax the associated muscles until the back is aligned.
Because the spinal cord is within the spinal column, some chiropractors may attribute pain elsewhere in the body to spinal misalignment. The reasoning is that nerves which are not functioning properly may send the brain signals of pain where there is no injury. Spinal adjustments may be suggested to determine their effect on pain.
More often, a chiropractor will directly manipulate the joints or bones in an afflicted limb and determine the effect. A chiropractor may also decide that a discomfort is not of musculoskeletal origin, and suggest a patient visit a primary care physician or specialist.