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Understanding the Anatomy of the Spine

Last updated 3 years ago

From lifting heavy objects to performing a cartwheel, your spine provides you with unparalleled stability and flexibility.  Comprised of a complex system of bones, connective tissues, nerves, and discs, your spine is responsible for supporting your body’s movement.  Read through this spinal anatomy overview to learn more about what makes up this important structure:

Spinal Bones and Vertebrae

In the most basic sense, your spine is a vertical construction of bones extending up the center of your back.  There are 33 individual bones in the spine known as vertebrae.  Hollow in the middle to protect the spinal cord, spinal vertebrae curve in a double S-shape for maximum support and flexibility.  Spinal anatomy is divided into four major sections:

  1. Cervical Region: This region is comprised of seven cervical vertebrae extending from the top of the spine through the neck.
  2. Thoracic Region: This region includes 12 thoracic vertebrae making up the upper back and supporting the ribs and sternum.
  3. Lumbar Region: Made up of 5 vertebrae in the lower back, the lumbar vertebrae allow for a great amount of flexibility and stability.
  4. Sacral Region: This region consists of the five fused vertebrae of the sacrum and four fused vertebrae that make up the coccyx (the tailbone).

Nervous System Components

One important function of the spine is to protect the delicate spinal cord that runs from your brain down through the center of the spine.  Inside the spine is the vertebral foramen, which is comprised of a tube of protective tissue. Nerve roots and branches extend through this structure into the rest of your body through tiny holes.

Supporting Structures

Your spine requires connective materials to support and bind the components together.  These include facet joints, ligaments, and muscles, which allow your spine to bend easily while supporting the rest of your body.

Contact Garden State Pain Management for more information about spinal anatomy.  As the premier back pain specialists in the New Jersey area, our treatments help restore your spine and back to optimal condition.  If you’re experiencing pain, call (888) 481-6521 to schedule a diagnostic appointment. 



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