Cause of a extra vertebra in the human body

Most people have five vertebrae in their lumbar (lower back) region, which are named L1 to L5. However, some people possess an additional lumbar vertebra located below the L5. This extra vertebra, known as the L6, is called a transitional vertebra. About 10 percent of adults have some form of spinal abnormality caused by genetics, and a sixth lumbar vertebra is among the most common of these abnormalities.

Question- What is the current explanation to why some humans have developed this extra vertebra in the spine?

Vertebral column

The vertebral column, also known as the backbone or spine, is part of the axial skeleton. The vertebral column is the defining characteristic of a vertebrate in which the notochord (a flexible rod of uniform composition) found in all chordates has been replaced by a segmented series of bone: vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs. [1] The vertebral column houses the spinal canal, a cavity that encloses and protects the spinal cord.

There are about 50,000 species of animals that have a vertebral column. [2] The human vertebral column is one of the most-studied examples.

Back anatomy: Bones, nerves, and conditions

The back supports the weight of the body, allowing for flexible movement while protecting vital organs and nerve structures.

This article looks at the anatomy of the back, including bones, muscles, and nerves. It also covers some common conditions and injuries that can affect the back.

Click on the interactive model below to explore the anatomy of the back.

The back comprises the spine and spinal nerves, as well as several different muscle groups. The sections below will cover these elements in more detail.


The spine is composed of 33 bones called vertebrae, which stack together to form the spinal canal. This protects the spinal cord inside.

Facet joints connect each vertebra, with fluid supporting the free movement of these joints. A disk sits in-between each vertebra to cushion the bones from any shocks.

The spine consists of five sections. From the top of the spine to the bottom, these sections are:

  • The cervical spine: The cervical spine is the top part of the spine. It runs from the neck to the upper back. It consists of seven vertebrae. The cervical spine protects the nerves connecting to the brain, allowing the head to move freely while supporting its weight.
  • The thoracic spine: The thoracic spine is the middle part of the spine, connecting the cervical and lumbar spine. It has 12 vertebrae. The thoracic spine helps keep the body upright and stable.
  • The lumbar spine: The lumbar spine is the lower part of the back. It is made up of five larger vertebrae. These support most of the body’s weight.
  • The sacrum: The sacrum is the bottom part of the spine, which connects to the hip bones. The sacrum has five vertebrae fused together.
  • The coccyx: The coccyx is the base, or tailbone, of the spine. This consists of four vertebrae fused together. It joins to ligaments and muscles around the pelvis.

Ligaments are tough, flexible bands of connecting tissue that join bones to other bones.

Two of the main ligaments in the back are the anterior longitudinal ligament and the posterior longitudinal ligament. These two ligaments connect and support the spine from the neck to the lower back.

Spinal cord

The spinal cord runs from the neck down to the lower back. It consists of nerves that carry messages to and from the brain.

More specifically, the spinal cord allows the body to:

  • move freely
  • have an awareness of the position of limbs
  • feel sensations, such as heat, cold, and vibrations
  • regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • carry out bodily functions, such as breathing, urinating, and having bowel movements

The spinal cord has five sections of spinal nerves branching off. These are:

  • the cervical nerves
  • the thoracic nerves
  • the lumbar nerves
  • the sacral nerves
  • the coccygeal nerves

Muscles in the back

There are three different groups of muscles in the back. These are called the superficial, intermediate, and intrinsic muscles. The sections below cover these in more detail.

Superficial muscles

The superficial, or extrinsic, back muscles allow for the movement of the limbs. These muscles include the:

Intermediate muscles

The intermediate muscles connect to the ribs and support respiration. These muscles include the serratus posterior inferior and the serratus posterior superior.

Intrinsic muscles

The intrinsic, or deep, muscles allow for movements such as rotation and bending. These muscles include:

What is a fracture?

A bone fracture is a medical condition where the continuity of the bone is broken.

A significant percentage of bone fractures occur because of high force impact or stress.

However, a fracture may also be the result of some medical conditions which weaken the bones, for example osteoporosis, some cancers, or osteogenesis imperfecta (also known as brittle bone diseases).

A fracture caused by a medical condition is known as a pathological fracture.

Share on Pinterest Fractures can occur in any bone of the body.

The word “break” is commonly used by lay (non-professional) people.

Among doctors, especially bone specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, “break” is a much less common term when talking about bones.

A crack (not only a break) in the bone is also known as a fracture. Fractures can occur in any bone in the body.

There are several different ways in which a bone can fracture for example, a break to the bone that does not damage surrounding tissue or tear through the skin is known as a closed fracture.

On the other hand, one that damages surrounding skin and penetrates the skin is known as a compound fracture or an open fracture. Compound fractures are generally more serious than simple fractures, because, by definition, they are infected.

Most human bones are surprisingly strong and can generally stand up to fairly strong impacts or forces. However, if that force is too powerful, or there is something wrong with the bone, it can fracture.

The older we get, the less force our bones can withstand. Because children’s bones are more elastic, when they do have fractures they tend to be different. Children also have growth plates at the end of their bones – areas of growing bone – which may sometimes be damaged.

There is a range of fracture types, including:

  • Avulsion fracture – a muscle or ligament pulls on the bone, fracturing it.
  • Comminuted fracture – the bone is shattered into many pieces.
  • Compression (crush) fracture – generally occurs in the spongy bone in the spine. For example, the front portion of a vertebra in the spine may collapse due to osteoporosis.
  • Fracture dislocation – a joint becomes dislocated, and one of the bones of the joint has a fracture.
  • Greenstick fracture – the bone partly fractures on one side, but does not break completely because the rest of the bone can bend. This is more common among children, whose bones are softer and more elastic.
  • Hairline fracture – a partial fracture of the bone. Sometimes this type of fracture is harder to detect with routine xrays.
  • Impacted fracture – when the bone is fractured, one fragment of bone goes into another.
  • Intraarticular fracture – where the break extends into the surface of a joint
  • Longitudinal fracture – the break is along the length of the bone.
  • Oblique fracture – a fracture that is diagonal to a bone’s long axis.
  • Pathological fracture – when an underlying disease or condition has already weakened the bone, resulting in a fracture (bone fracture caused by an underlying disease/condition that weakened the bone).
  • Spiral fracture – a fracture where at least one part of the bone has been twisted.
  • Stress fracture – more common among athletes. A bone breaks because of repeated stresses and strains.
  • Torus (buckle) fracture – bone deforms but does not crack. More common in children. It is painful but stable.
  • Transverse fracture – a straight break right across a bone.

The signs and symptoms of a fracture vary according to which bone is affected, the patient’s age and general health, as well as the severity of the injury. However, they often include some of the following:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • discolored skin around the affected area
  • angulation – the affected area may be bent at an unusual angle
  • the patient is unable to put weight on the injured area
  • the patient cannot move the affected area
  • the affected bone or joint may have a grating sensation
  • if it is an open fracture, there may be bleeding

When a large bone is affected, such as the pelvis or femur:

  • the sufferer may look pale and clammy
  • there may be dizziness (feeling faint)
  • feelings of sickness and nausea.

If possible, do not move a person with a broken bone until a healthcare professional is present and can assess the situation and, if required, apply a splint. If the patient is in a dangerous place, such as in the middle of a busy road, one sometimes has to act before the emergency services arrive.

Most fractures are caused by a bad fall or automobile accident. Healthy bones are extremely tough and resilient and can withstand surprisingly powerful impacts. As people age, two factors make their risk of fractures greater: Weaker bones and a greater risk of falling.

Children, who tend to have more physically active lifestyles than adults, are also prone to fractures.

People with underlying illnesses and conditions that may weaken their bones have a higher risk of fractures. Examples include osteoporosis, infection, or a tumor. As mentioned earlier, this type of fracture is known as a pathological fracture.

Stress fractures, which result from repeated stresses and strains, commonly found among professional sports people, are also common causes of fractures.

A doctor will carry out a physical examination, identify signs and symptoms, and make a diagnosis.

The patient will be interviewed – or friends, relatives, and witnesses if the patient cannot communicate properly – and asked about circumstances that caused the injury or may have caused it.

Doctors will often order an X-ray. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan may also be ordered.

Bone healing is a natural process which, in most cases, will occur automatically. Fracture treatment is usually aimed at making sure there is the best possible function of the injured part after healing.

Treatment also focuses on providing the injured bone with the best circumstances for optimum healing (immobilization).

For the natural healing process to begin, the ends of the broken bone need to be lined up – this is known as reducing the fracture.

The patient is usually asleep under a general anesthetic when fracture reduction is done. Fracture reduction may be done by manipulation, closed reduction (pulling the bone fragments), or surgery.

Immobilization – as soon as the bones are aligned they must stay aligned while they heal. This may include:

  • Plaster casts or plastic functional braces – these hold the bone in position until it has healed.
  • Metal plates and screws – current procedures may use minimally invasive techniques.
  • Intra-medullary nails – internal metal rods are placed down the center of long bones. Flexible wires may be used in children.
  • External fixators – these may be made of metal or carbon fiber they have steel pins that go into the bone directly through the skin. They are a type of scaffolding outside the body.

Usually, the fractured bone area is immobilized for 2-8 weeks. The duration depends on which bone is affected and whether there are any complications, such as a blood supply problem or an infection.

Healing – if a broken bone has been aligned properly and kept immobile, the healing process is usually straightforward.

Osteoclasts (bone cells) absorb old and damaged bone while osteoblasts (other bone cells) are used to create new bone.

Callus is new bone that forms around a fracture. It forms on either side of the fracture and grows toward each end until the fracture gap is filled. Eventually, the excess bone smooths off and the bone is as it was before.

The patient’s age, which bone is affected, the type of fracture, as well as the patient’s general health are all factors which influence how rapidly the bone heals. If the patient smokes regularly, the healing process will take longer.

Physical therapy – after the bone has healed, it may be necessary to restore muscle strength as well as mobility to the affected area. If the fracture occurred near or through a joint, there is a risk of permanent stiffness or arthritis – the individual may not be able to bend that joint as well as before.

Surgery – if there was damage to the skin and soft tissue around the affected bone or joint, plastic surgery may be required.

Delayed unions and non-unions

Non-unions are fractures that fail to heal, while delayed unions are those that take longer to heal.

Most protist diseases in humans are caused by animal-like protists, or protozoa. Protozoa make us sick when they become human parasites. Three examples of parasitic protozoa are described below.

Trypanosoma Protozoa

Members of the genus Trypanosoma are flagellate protozoa that cause sleeping sickness, which is common in Africa. They also cause Chagas disease, which is common in South America. The parasites are spread by insect vectors. The vector for Chagas disease is shown in Figure below. Trypanosoma parasites enter a person&rsquos blood when the vector bites. Then they spread to other tissues and organs. The diseases may be fatal without medical treatment.

Vector for Chagas Disease. In Chagas disease, the Trypanosoma parasite is spread by an insect commonly called the &ldquokissing bug.&rdquo A bite from this bug could be the kiss of death.

The discovery of Chagas disease is unique in the history of medicine. That&rsquos because a single researcher&mdasha Brazilian physician named Carlos Chagas&mdashsingle-handedly identified and explained the new infectious disease. In the early 1900s, Chagas did careful lab and field studies. He determined the pathogen, vector, host, symptoms, and mode of transmission of the disease that is now named for him.

Giardia Protozoa

Giardia are flagellate protozoa that cause giardiasis. The parasites enter the body through food or water that has been contaminated by feces of infected people or animals. The protozoa attach to the lining of the host&rsquos small intestine, where they prevent the host from fully absorbing nutrients. They may also cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. A picture of a Giardia protozoan opens this concept.

Plasmodium Protozoa

Plasmodium protozoa cause malaria. The parasites are spread by a mosquito vector. Parasites enter a host&rsquos blood through the bite of an infected mosquito. The parasites infect the host&rsquos red blood cells, causing symptoms such as fever, joint pain, anemia, and fatigue.

Malaria is common in tropical and subtropical climates throughout the world (see Figure below). In fact, malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases on the planet. Malaria is also a very serious disease. It kills several million people each year, most of them children. A vaccine to malaria is a possibility.

Worldwide Distribution of Malaria. This map shows where malaria is found. The area is determined by the mosquito vector. The mosquito can live year-round only in the red-shaded areas.

Human Evolution: Gain Came With Pain

BOSTON—Humans are the most successful primates on the planet, but our bodies wouldn’t win many awards for good design. That was the consensus of a panel of anthropologists who described in often-painful (and sometimes personal) detail just how poor a job evolution has done sculpting the human form here Friday at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes ScienceNOW). Using props and examples from the fossil record, the scientists showed how the very adaptations that have made humans so successful—such as upright walking and our big, complex brains—have been the result of constant remodeling of an ancient ape body plan that was originally used for life in the trees. “This anatomy isn’t what you’d design from scratch," said anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University. "Evolution works with duct tape and paper clips."

Starting with the foot, DeSilva held up a cast with 26 bones and said: "You wouldn’t design it out of 26 moving parts." Our feet have so many bones because our ape-like ancestors needed flexible feet to grasp branches. But as they moved out of the trees and began walking upright on the ground in the past 5 million years or so, the foot had to become more stable, and bit by bit, the big toe, which was no longer opposable, aligned itself with the other toes and our ancestors developed an arch to work as a shock absorber. "The foot was modified to remain rigid," said DeSilva. "A lot of BandAids were stuck on these bones." But the bottom line was that our foot still has a lot of room to twist inwards and outwards, and our arches collapse. This results in: ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and broken ankles. These are not modern problems, due to stiletto heels Fossils show broken ankles that have healed as far back as 3 million years ago.

A better design for upright walking and running, DeSilva said, would be a foot and ankle like an ostrich. An ostrich’s ankle and lower leg bones are fused into a single structure, which puts a kick into their step—and their foot has only two toes that aid in running. "Why can’t I have a foot like that?" asked DeSilva. One reason is that ostriches trace their upright locomotion back 230 million years to the age of dinosaurs, while our ancestors walked upright just 5 million years ago.

Turning up the pain threshold a notch, anatomist and paleoanthropologist Bruce Latimer of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, limped to the podium, dangling a twisted human backbone as evidence of real pain. "If you want one place cobbled together with duct tape and paper clips it’s the back," said Latimer, a survivor of back surgery.

When humans stood upright, they took a spine that had evolved to be stiff for climbing and moving in trees and rotated it 90 degrees, so it was vertical—a task Latimer compared to stacking 26 cups and saucers on top of each other (vertebrae and discs) and then, balancing a head on top. But so as not to obstruct the birth canal and to get the torso balanced above our feet, the spine has to curve inwards (lordosis), creating the hollow of our backs. That's why our spines are shaped like an "S." All that curving, with the weight of the head and stuff we carry stacked on top, creates pressure that causes back problems—especially if you play football, do gymnastics, or swim the butterfly stroke. In the United States alone, 700,000 people suffer vertebral fractures per year and back problems are the sixth leading human malady in the world. "If you take care of it, your spine will get you through to about 40 or 50," said Latimer. "After that, you’re on your own."

Paleoanthropologist Karen Rosenberg of the University of Delaware, Newark, moved beyond pain. As our bodies had to adapt to upright walking and bigger brains, they had to balance both of those changes with the limitations of the birth canal—and allowing enough mothers and babies to survive that the big-brained, upright walking species didn’t go extinct. "Death in childbirth used to be leading cause of death for women in reproductive years." That’s because compared with other primates, humans give birth to babies with larger bodies and brains—on average, human babies are 6.1% of their mother’s body size compared with chimp babies (3.3%) and gorilla babies (2.7%).

Despite the high risks for death and injury in childbirth, our ancestors’ solution to the problem was to give birth with social support. Today, humans rely on culture, often in the form of modern medicine, to change that outcome, using assisted birth with doctors or midwives, for example. One sign of that is that is that caesarean sections account for about 30% of all births in the United States, Rosenberg said.

The point of citing all these problems? Evolution doesn’t "design" anything, says anthropologist Matt Cartmill of Boston University, a discussant on the panel. It works slowly on the genes and traits it has at hand, to jerry-rig animals’ and humans body plans to changing habitats and demands. “Evolution doesn’t act to yield perfection," he says. "It acts to yield function.”

Situs inversus and my 'through the looking glass' body

What links Catherine O’Hara, Enrique Iglesias, Donny Osmond, and me? At face value, at least, not a lot. Look beneath the skin, however, and you would see a striking similarity: our hearts beat on the right, not the left. In fact it goes beyond mere dextrocardia, which would mean only the heart is transposed instead, all our organs are placed in mirror image to the norm. We are linked by abnormality: we all have situs inversus.

Situs inversus is a rare congenital condition in which all of an individual’s internal organs in the thorax and abdomen are positioned on the opposite side to where they should be. The liver, for instance, is now on the left, the spleen on the right. Flipped, for want of a better word.

In some cases a person can live most of their life without realising they have situs inversus. Indeed, it has been reported that Donny Osmond was only aware of his condition after his case of appendicitis was overlooked because his appendix wasn’t where the doctor expected it to be. As such, and with an estimated occurrence of one in every 10,000 births, situs inversus totalis - the full term for complete anatomical reversal - has intrigued scientists for centuries. Many believe the condition holds clues to understanding how our bodies differentiate right from left, and the significance behind such a preference.

I was diagnosed with situs inversus totalis at six months old. Often, recorded signs of a reversed anatomy are dismissed as an error of the x-ray technician, the left and right labels supposedly mixed-up. It was only when I was taken to hospital with unrelated breathing problems that doctors began to consider the possibility that I had situs inversus. “Sit down and listen to everything I tell you”, the doctor told my parents, who, even after listening intently, were left in a state of disbelief. Several medical staff hurried into the room, excited. Medics may only come across one case of situs inversus in their careers, and I was later invited to take part in a Guess What’s Wrong With The Baby trainee doctor event.

For the last twelve years I have worn a MedicAlert bracelet on my left wrist to notify people of my rare condition. Turn it over and emergency medical staff are informed that I have “Complete Situs Inversus Normal Ciliary”. Rather than being simply an accessory or conversation piece, it serves the valuable purpose of preventing the somewhat unfortunate-sounding possibility of having an operation on the wrong side in an emergency.

Since all my organs have assumed the exact opposite location, situs inversus does not affect my overall health. I was very lucky had only a few of my organs moved, or had they grown in random positions - as is the case with situs ambiguus - the condition would have been very serious. Of those born with situs inversus, 25% have Kartagener Syndrome (also referred to as primary ciliary dyskinesia), a defect in the cilia that line important organs and tracts, such as the respiratory tract, causing bronchitis, and reducing male fertility.

In other circumstances, the failure of one of the organs to move to the other side can further complicate the individual’s health, by causing entanglement. This often proves fatal.

There is also a strong probability that people born with situs inversus have heart problems. Speaking with adult congenital cardiologist Dr Dan Halpern at New York University’s Langone Medical Centre in July, I began to fully understand the condition’s implications. “You are the rarity,” he said, before delving into an animated description of the cardiovascular impact a reversed anatomy can have.

The most common heart problem, Halpern told me, is the transposition of the great arteries: instead of the great vessels arising from the heart criss-crossing over each other as they should, they lie in parallel. Alongside this, the main ventricles of the heart are inverted, or the great vessels arise from the wrong chamber. In the event of heart surgery, situs inversus can involve complications, since organs such as the heart are chiral - ie. they can be distinguished from their mirror image. Just think what would happen if you tried, for example, to attach a left hand to a right wrist. A similar geometric problem occurs if a donated heart from a non-situs inversus donor is transplanted into someone with situs inversus. The donor’s heart must be placed into the reversed position, and the surgeon needs to consider aspects such as the different weighting and the need to ensure the reattachment of the asymmetric blood vessels. It is almost like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with the wrong pieces.Thankfully, twenty years on from my surprise diagnosis I have been able to lead a perfectly normal life - albeit one with a growing curiosity for what situs inversus entails the history of its discovery, its wider cultural implications and why it occurs.

Although Aristotle cited two cases of transposed organs in animals, situs inversus was first discovered in Naples by the anatomist and surgeon Marco Severino, in 1643. A century later the Scottish physician Matthew Baillie recorded the reversal as situs inversus, from the Latin situs, as in “location”, and inversus for “opposite”. Situs solitus is the normal structure, while isolated levocardia refers to when the heart alone remains on the left - an even rarer condition.

Baillie’s 1788 account of the discovery during a seminar at the Hunterian School of Medicine conveys the shock the room of young doctors felt as they were faced with the mirror image. His text explains that from the outside the deceased man appeared to be of normal disposition, but that “upon opening the cavity of the thorax and abdomen, the different situation of the viscera was so striking as immediately to excite the attention of the pupils”. While the right lung is usually divided into three lobes, the pupils discovered “‘exactly contrary to what is found in ordinary cases”. He goes on to explain that “the apex of the heart was found to point to the right-side nearly opposite to the sixth rib, and its cavities as well as large vessels were completely transposed.”

The account also tells of the “considerable pains” Baillie took to establish how the condition had affected the man while he was alive. In researching the life of the deceased it was established that “the person, while alive, was not conscious of any uncommon situation of his heart.” It seems probable that if such a finding had been made in medieval times, a person with situs inversus would most certainly have been branded a witch or demon posthumously.

Artists and writers have explored the implications of situs inversus. Understandably so: it makes for a cracking plot twist. The titular character in Ian Fleming’s 1958 James Bond novel Dr No is saved from a bullet because of his dextrocardia. In Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger introduces situs inversus during the postmortem of a twin. During the period 1452-1519, Leonardo Da Vinci is alleged to have been one of the first to depict the situs inversus anatomy - but then again, he did write back to front.

We consciously seek to attribute symbolism to structures that are formed in nature, investing our belief in the left-right asymmetry norm. Most notably, the heart and its position has always held an important cultural significance. America’s pledge of allegiance relies on the belief that the heart veers to the left of the thorax. In the Middle East, placing a hand over one’s heart after shaking hands with someone conveys respect, but also forges trust. The playground promise “cross my heart and hope to die”, started life as a religious oath, Christian in origin. “Hand on heart” suggests a sense of truth. Are these pledges and customs compromised if the right hand covers flesh and nothing more?

Of course, bodies come in many forms. Beneath the skin the illusion of regularity can be overturned, the body’s complexity brought to the light.

What are the Health Effects of Cosmic Rays on the Human Body?

Cosmic rays are energetic particles (not actually rays) traveling rapidly through space. They are everywhere, and several dozen slam into your body every second. These cosmic rays are too low-energy to cause any serious health effects, aside from a few genetic mutations, and cosmic rays are in fact one of the drivers of evolution. Your body receives about 2.4 mSv (milliSieverts) of radiation caused by the effects of cosmic rays every year. For comparison, it takes about 1 Sievert of radiation in a short time to cause nausea, and about 2-6 Sieverts to cause death.

The health effects of cosmic rays change at higher altitudes, where the cosmic ray flux increases exponentially up to an altitude of about 15 km (9 mi), then drops off rapidly. Because of this, people who spend a lot of time at high altitudes, like airline pilots, stewardesses, and Air Force test pilots, experience dozens of times the effects of cosmic rays that people on the ground do. This is still well below the career limit of 1-4 Sv recommended by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. The cosmic ray flux is low enough in the Earth's atmosphere that exposure only becomes an issue in space.

On the International Space Station, 350 km (217 mi) above the surface of the Earth, astronauts experience the effects of cosmic rays hundreds of times more numerous than those experienced by people on the ground. The Earth's atmosphere is such an effective insulator that barely any particles actually make it to the ground, and most of what people are exposed to is secondary radiation from collisions in the upper atmosphere. On space stations, astronauts are exposed to primary radiation. However, people have spent more than a year in space with no ill effects from cosmic rays, and it seems plausible that indefinitely long stays are possible.

The people who would be most exposed to cosmic rays are people journeying between the Earth and the Moon or the Earth and other planets. The Earth is primarily shielded by its magnetosphere, a huge magnetic field that extends about 70,000 km (43,500 mi) from the Earth's surface in every direction. Leave the magnetosphere, and you are exposed to galactic cosmic rays -- one of the strongest types -- which are typically blocked by the Earth's magnetic shielding. Accordingly, Apollo astronauts reported seeing flashes of light in their eyeballs, which may have been galactic cosmic rays. The effects of prolonged exposure to these rays -- say, on a Mars mission -- are unknown.

Michael is a longtime InfoBloom contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

Michael is a longtime InfoBloom contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

How do viruses make us ill?

Viruses harm the body in a number of different ways depending on the strain.

Published: 06th June, 2020 at 11:02

Viruses are extremely tiny parasites made of genetic material, wrapped in proteins and sometimes an outer membrane layer, which hijack living cells to reproduce themselves. We’re exposed to viruses every day, but our immune system prevents the vast majority of them from taking hold – especially those that we’ve fought off before, or been vaccinated against.

The first stages of an infection happen when a virus gets past our physical barriers of skin and mucus, and enters a suitable cell. Once inside, a virus can take over the cell, forcing the cell to make many copies of the virus (replicate), which damages the cell and sometimes kills it. The newly-made viruses are released to find a new cell. We get ill when a virus has established an infection in many cells, and our body’s normal functioning changes.

Viruses often infect specific places in our bodies, which is where we feel their effect. Rhinoviruses infect our upper airways behind our nose, and we respond with snot and sneezes: a common cold. The coronavirus that emerged in 2019 (called SARS-CoV-2) infects our lower airways, including our lungs, leading to pneumonia.

Our body fights viruses by creating an inflammatory response and calling in specialist cells from our tissues and organs. Some of these cells can make antibodies against the virus, some destroy the infected cells, and others build a memory of the virus for next time. Some of the things that make us feel ill – snot, fever and swollen lymph nodes, for example – are due to our body’s battle to get rid of the virus, not because of the virus itself.

What can I do to help ease the symptoms of DDD?

Several strategies can help you manage DDD pain:

  • Do your physical therapy exercises at home exactly as you were shown.
  • Keep your core muscles strong to support your back and neck.
  • Take your pain medications as prescribed.
  • Use good posture when sitting and standing.
  • Use heat and cold on the area that hurts.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Disk degeneration is a natural part of aging once you turn 40. Still, if you develop pain in your neck or back that does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications, talk to a healthcare provider. Medications and therapy can control the symptoms of disk degeneration and help you stay active.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/07/2020.


  • Arthritis Foundation. Degenerative Disc Disease. Accessed 11/29/2020.
  • Dowdell J, Erwin M, Choma T, et al. Intervertebral disc degeneration and repair. Neurosurg. 2017 80(3 Suppl): S46–S54. Accessed 11/29/2020.
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Intervertebral Disc Disease. Accessed 11/29/2020.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Related Institutes & Services

Neurological Institute

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Watch the video: Χειροπρακτική Ackermann κατά του πονοκεφάλου (December 2021).