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Check Your Balance…Spinal Balance, That Is.

By Larry Grine, PT, MSPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, CDN | November 28, 2018

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an excellent presentation on ‘Spinal Balance’ at Virginia Spine Institute’s weekly clinical conference, provided by Dr. Christopher Good.   Often times in the orthopedic world, whether it be in physical therapy or spinal surgery, success lies in the details. The details that come forward in this presentation are the importance of an individual’s posture as it relates to spinal alignment.


With the exception of some prenatal disorders, each of us are born with perfect spinal alignment that allows our bodies to work efficiently and with purpose. As we age, however, this spinal alignment may break down and surgery may be necessary to realign and restore balance to our spine. To this point, it is vital that providers works diligently to factor in spinal alignment when performing surgical procedures.


A person has a range where their posture and muscular system works efficiently and that is called their ‘Cone of Economy’.  If their spinal balance or posture falls outside of this range, research has shown a poorer quality of life, often causing significant impairments, lifestyle modifications, and pain.  Small deviates from good posture seem insignificant over a short period of time, but in fact can cause significant change over longer periods of time.  These concepts seem simple, however in the field of both physical therapy and spinal surgery many providers are focused on the short-term result.


It is common in many physical therapy practices to ignore large issues by not addressing the entire body and the compensatory mechanisms that occur in adjacent joints.  Many physical therapists see multiple patients at one time and simply don’t have the time or the skill to provide optimal treatment. In spine surgery, many surgeons attempt to resolve pain and dysfunction by removing bone or disc but fail to prepare for the long-term effect this may have on a patient’s structural posture. Without spinal balance, long-term success is unlikely because it could break down adjacent structures and lead to the need for revision surgery over time.


At Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center, we pay significant attention to a patient’s posture and spinal balance in the beginning of the evaluation. Our ability to detect both significant and small deviations from good spinal alignment guide our treatments to change both muscular and structure faults. In cases where compensations have persisted too long, spinal surgery may be the best course of action. At Virginia Spine Institute, Dr. Good and his colleagues are using diagnostic technology to measure spinal balance and properly prepare so patients have better post-surgical outcomes and more importantly a better long-term result. When you choose your team to help improve your spine, be sure to choose physical therapists and spinal surgeons wisely. Be sure to choose those who are on the leading edge of research and those committed to a successful long-term result for you!

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Larry Grine, PT, MSPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, CDN

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