Basic Anatomy of the Spine
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 25, 2014
The spine is an incredibly complex bodily structure that takes years of study to fully understand. For those of you who don’t have the time, money, or interest in pursuing a medical degree but still want a basic understanding of the human spine, this article will outline the basic spinal anatomy.
3 Sections of the Spine
The human spine is divided into three main sections:
- The Cervical Spine – the upper section that includes the neck.
- The Thoracic Spine – the mid section.
- The Lumbar Spine – the lower section.
- The Sacral Spine – a small section located between the hip bones.
- The Coccygeal Spine – made up of the coccyx, more commonly referred to as the tailbone.
Each section of the spine consists of bones called vertebrae. In total there are 24 vertebrae – 7 in the cervical region, 12 in the thoracic region, and 5 in the lumbar region. Between each vertebra is a disc whose function is to provide a cushion for the bones (bones rubbing against each other is not a good thing).
The center of the spinal cord is essentially a hollow canal through which nerves and fibers pass. These nerves run from the brain, down through the spinal cord, and out to other areas of the body. The Lamina is the section of the vertebrae that surrounds and protects the nerves.
Most issues that require spine surgery occur when these nerves are affected, whether by a protruding spinal disc or by some sort of external trauma. These nerves that pass through the spine are responsible for most of the functions our body performs. When they are compromised, functionality can be severely impacted and be accompanied by intense pain. If you experience severe or long-term back pain, consult with your doctor to determine the root cause of the pain.