Spinal Joints
The spine is formed of 33 vertebrae. The spine is divided into regions – the neck, upper back, lower back, sacrum and coccyx. All these regions show differences in anatomy and function, but there are similarities throughout.

Each vertebra (bony segment of the spine) articulates with the segment above and below. These areas of articulation are the spinal joints. These joints allow mobility through the spinal column. Some areas of the spine will move better in different directions. The joints form part of a system that allows us to bend forwards, bend backwards, bend or twist from side-to-side. Or combinations of these.
Most of the spinal joints are covered in cartilage, and form a synovial joint. The same type of joint as the knee.
Spinal joints can be injured. They can become very stiff or “locked”. They can become inflamed and painful. They are often the cause of what is commonly referred to as a “cricked neck”. This could happen anywhere in the spine.
Osteopaths are very well trained in anatomy and physiology. So when examining a patient it is possible to identify what area is causing the patient the problem. Examining the area hands-on, Osteopaths are able to feel whether a spinal joint is mobile, and also to assess the quality of the movement.
Osteopaths don’t just treat spinal joints. So this examination would take into account other tissues. Other symptoms experienced alongside such an issue may require further assessment.
If a joint is found to be the cause of the problem, then an Osteopath can work to improve the mobility. There are many different ways to encourage this mobility, it may be done in a repetitive way, or it may be possible to gap the joint quickly to encourage movement. It will very often be the case that other tissues would need to be worked on alongside this work on the joints. So specific soft-tissue massage techniques would more than likely be incorporated into the treatment.
Your Osteopath would also provide additional advice on helping to settle the area, and perhaps some exercises and advice to manage and/or avoid the problem in the long-term.

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