Spine Anatomy: The Basics
Are you suffering from a condition causing back or spine pain? If so, let’s take a minute to discuss spine anatomy. In order to fully understand the cause of your back pain and the right approach for treatment, it’s important to understand the anatomy of your spine. Let’s start with the basics. Your spine is the structure that allows you to stand up, move, bend, and twist. It also protects your spinal cord which connects your brain to your nervous system.
Spine Anatomy: Five Regions of the Spine
Your spine has 33 bones or vertebrae that are stacked on top of one another and divided into five regions. Vertebrae come in all sizes and provide support to your body. The five regions of the spine include:
- Cervical Spine. The cervical spine is another name for your neck and features seven vertebrae that run from the stem of your brain down your neck. It is considered the most mobile section of the spine.
- Thoracic Spine. On the thoracic spine, you’ll find 12 vertebrae on your upper and middle back. The range of motion in the thoracic spine is limited.
- Lumbar Spine. The lumbar spine has five vertebrae and begins below your shoulder and goes down to your abdomen. Since these vertebrae are larger, they are able to handle the stress of carrying heavy objects and lifting.
- Sacral Spine. On the sacral spine, there are five fused vertebrae that form the sacrum. This region starts in your lower back, extends to your tailbone and connects your spine to your hip bones.
- Coccygeal Spine. The coccygeal spine contains four fused vertebrae referred to as the coccyx. It is located at the bottom of your spine and provides attachment for the ligaments and muscles of the pelvic floor.
Why an “S” Curve?
When you look at a normal spine from the side, you’ll notice a curve that is in the shape of an S. The S curve allows a healthy spine to withstand all types of stress. While the cervical spine curves inward, the thoracic spine curves outward, and the lumbar spine curves inward. Each region of the spine depends on the strength of the others to function at its optimal level.
Since we rely on our spine to move, daily life can be very difficult when it causes pain. At Pacific Spine, we see patients that are living with back pain for a number of different reasons. In most cases, back pain is caused by muscular problems, degenerated discs, tumors, infections, sciatica, scoliosis, or osteoarthritis.