Making the “Transition”

n this article we will discuss:

  • What are transitional Zones?
  • Why do these areas produce pain?
  • Where do these areas cause pain?

 

What are transitional zones?

The transitional zones of the spine are junctions at which the 4 main areas of the spine meet each other. These are as follows:

  • Occipital Cranial Base (Where the skull meets the neck).
  • Cervico-Thoracic Junction (Where the neck meets the rib cage).
  • Thoraco-Lumbar Junctions (Where the Ribcage meets the lower back)
  • Lumbo-Sacral Junction (Where the lower back meets the pelvis)

Why does dysfunction in these areas produce pain?

Theses 4 junctions, similarly to a set of 4 way traffic lights are areas where the body can become pressured and congested often resulting in pain.

These junctions are particularly prone to dysfunction as they are the meeting points of two areas of the spine which do very different jobs.

The biggest difference between two areas is usually their amount of mobility Vs their amount of stability or their amount of mobility in one direction compare to another.

For example:

  • The neck is a very mobile structure which is able to move in lots of different direction aid us with vision and functional activities. On the opposite side of the mobility scale is the rib cage which is a very stable structure which helps to protect your lungs, heart, stomach other vital organs. At Cervico-Thoracic Junction (where the neck and ribcage meet) we have an area of large mobility meeting an area of large stability so problems often arise.
  • The Thoraco-Lumbar junction has large amount of rotational movement whereas the lumbar spine loves to bend forward and backwards. Where these two areas of different movement meet there has to be a compromise which can sometimes be difficult for the body to achieve and leaves the area more prone to injury.

Common Pain Patterns:

When any of the 4 transitional zones become dysfunctional, common pain patterns can arise. Some of which you may recognise in yourself.

 

  • The Occipital Cranial Base, if dysfunctional, often produces neck pain and headaches.

 

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    • Cervical Thoracic junction dysfunction often causes lower neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pains and shoulder blade pain
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    • Thoraco-lumbar junction dysfunction oftern produces flank pain and lower back, groin and inner thigh pain which is also known as Maigne syndrome
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    • Finally Lumbo-Sacral Junction dysfunction can produce lower back, buttock, groin and posterior thigh pain.
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