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The Human Frame

A Union of Form and Function

By Dr. Matthew Devlin, the owner of Trade Street Chiropractic in Tryon The human frame is an architectural marvel, a seamless harmony of form (anatomy) and function (physiology). One example of this interweave is the relationship between the spinal column and the spinal cord.

The spinal column is not a stagnant mass of bone. Rather, it consists of 24 dynamic vertebrae working in unison to protect the spinal cord and transmit its immediate offshoots, the spinal nerves. These spinal nerves relay messages from the spinal cord to the rest of the body (including the skin, muscles, and internal organs). Normal, healthy function depends on clear transmission of these messages.

So what can interfere with this communication and impede healthy function? Postural deviations are a common culprit. Posture is an issue extending far beyond a parent’s admonition to “sit up straight” at the dinner table. When viewed from the side, a healthy spine has three unique curves. These curves are important for many reasons, including balance and stability. For example, the lumbar spine (the lower back) ideally allows for a natural arch. Unfortunately, this arch is often eradicated by excessive sitting - an unwelcome byproduct of modern living. Altering form changes function, often resulting in stiffness and pain (two of the main reasons given when patients first present to a chiropractor).

So are pain and stiffness the problems? No. In fact, the body has intelligently “sounded the alarm” in an effort to draw attention to the underlying issue: a deviation in form that has negatively impacted function. Not that a chiropractor should ever minimize a patient’s symptoms, which can be severe enough to grind daily living to a halt. But by understanding the whole human and the inextricable link between form and function, chiropractors help their patients return in full to their everyday activities.

Dr. Matthew Devlin, D.C. is the owner of Trade Street Chiropractic in Tryon, NC. He also teaches Anatomy and Physiology at Isothermal Community College. Dr. Matt can be reached via email at

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