Sports Medicine/size of the vertabrae


I am in need of understanding the bony landmarks of the vertabrae. I sometimes feel as though i have a trigger point in my spine but I am having trouble pinpointing what vertebrae I am palpating and whether or not I am pressing directly on the transverse processes. I typicaly use a thera cane to do trigger point myself but use my hand to actually palpate them. What would be the approximate width of the vertabrae from transverse process to transverse process and how can i determine what vertabrae I am palpating. I am a six foot tall male of average build.

Hello Rick!

Your letter is quite interesting, and I question how you are able to feel the exact vertebrae of the spine.  Normally this is done by a very well-trained person who can delineate place, position, size and shape.   For one thing, it is almost an impossibility to feel  your vertebrae with accuracy anywhere along the spine unless you were somewhat emaciated.  Secondly, the spine is covered by a number of things for protection, ie:  a long tendon, thick and adhering to the transverse of the top and bottom of the next vertebrae.  Then there are the spinal muscles which hold the individual bones in alignment. Finally, the covering skin is also thick, and Is used for several reasons, none of which is nothing different than the other soft tissue.

Instead of trying this yourself, make an appointment with a good Chiropractic physician, and consult with him/her  as to an anatomy lesson on positioning, size, and in finding the area where you have discovered a possible trigger point.  They will be able to go over all your questions about size, spinal dynamics, differences between the cervical, thoracic and lumbar  spinous processes.  Each one of those sections of spinal anatomy is different in all facets.

Without actually seeing you, I could suggest going to the library to look for an illustrated Anatomy book where you can see, in a single dimension, the sizes of each section of the spine.  Just remember that the sizes of the vertebrae are relative to the size of the person, in general.

I am sorry to be so vague in my answer to you, but as I stated, I can't answer your questions unless I, or someone well-trained in palpatory procedure, could  be there to answer your inquiries.  Thank you for writing, and I hope you can find a professional to help you with your inquisitive answers.

Dr Patricia Arthut

Sports Medicine

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Dr. Patricia B. Arthur, DC, MRC, CST


As a 30-year practicing Chiropractic Physician, my specialty was Sports Medicine. For 8 years I had the distinct pleasure of working with the USOC, and traveled the world to care for the athletes in the Pre-Olympic venues for the Summer Games. When I wasn't traveling, I had a private practice, and a hospital practice, in Kamuela, Hawai'i. Questions I couldn't answer usually dealt with pharmeceuticals. This was not my expertise, but the simple questions pertaining to familiar drugs I was able to digress, or refer to someone that was knowledgable in that field. Most Sports Medicine field injuries were familiar to me, but I always aired on the side of caution. In my office practice, I would tend to see more patients with the weekend injuries who would try to self-treat, only making the injury worse than it should have been! Nevertheless, I never took anything for granted, and so it was my conservative approach to the "cause-and-effect" mechanisms that were vitally important to the healing process.


Following my competitive nature, I knew Sports Medicine would always be a part of my life. After graduation from Palmer University in Iowa, the old adage taught at the school dealt only with the spinal column......anything connected to the spine was outside our scope of practice. To me, this was too simplistic, because the complex body also had arms and legs! From this point, I developed specific technigues which would encorporate the body as a whole rather than haphazard segments. There is nothing traumatic that happens to a single ligament, tendon or joint that doesn't effect a secondary, or possibly a tertiary element in that area. In order for that space to heal, all the factors must be addressed. Volunteering my time teaching referrees, coaches, and interested parents about the realities of probable sports injuries was worth a thousand words!j

American Chiropractic Association; Local Emergency Response Committee; Hazardous Materials Response Team; Urban Search and Rescue Team - Operations and Planning; Federal Corps of Engineers Committee; Earthquake Advisory Board; Big Island Wildfire Committee

Papers published focusing on the importance of proper care of sports injuries; Authored medical columns for the syndicated magazine "The People's Doctor "; Published papers in professional journals on Head Injuries in Sports; Published papers on Drug Abuse in Sports.

Robert Packer Hospital - Certified Surgical Technician - CST; Palmer University - Doctor of Chiropractic - D.C.; Wright State University - Masters in Counseling/Psychology; Wright State University - Masters In Couseling of the Severely Disabled.

Awards and Honors
Selected US Olympic Physician -1988; Graduated Wright State University with a 3.75 GPA; Graduated Palmer University with a 3.5 GPA; Faculty Appointment - Palmer University Post Graduate Education; Faculty Appointment- Hawai'i/Kapiolani Community College - Skills Team Tester;

Past/Present Clients
Cincinnati Bengals Football Team pre-season training; Summer Olympic Athletes worldwide; Kona Ironman Triathletes - Finish - line physician

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