The spine, or backbone, is made up of small bones (vertebrae) stacked -- along with discs -- one on top of another. A healthy spine when viewed from the side has gentle curves to it. The curves help the spine absorb stress from body movement and gravity.
When viewed from the back, the spine should run straight down the middle of the back. When abnormalities of the spine occur, the natural curvatures of the spine are misaligned or exaggerated in certain areas, as occurs with lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis.
For many people, back pain seems like an unavoidable discomfort. But you may have more control than you think.
You can wreck your back in any number of ways, but a few major offenders stand out: Not stretching, not paying attention to your movements, and years of wear and tear, says Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic neurosurgery at UCLA and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Here are five habits that put your spine at risk and simple strategies to stop...
Kyphosis. A condition marked by an abnormally rounded upper back
Discitis. Inflammation of the disc space between the bones of the spine most often caused by infection
Benign (harmless) juvenile lordosis
The following conditions can cause kyphosis:
Abnormal vertebrae development in utero (congenital kyphosis)
Poor posture or slouching (postural kyphosis)
Scheuermann's disease, a condition that causes vertebrae to be misshaped (Scheuermann's kyphosis)
Spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column of the fetus does not close completely during development inside the womb
Doctors do not know what causes the most common type of scoliosis seen in adolescents. However, doctors do know that scoliosis tends to run in families. A disease, injury, infection, or birth defect also may be to blame.