Anatomy of the Spine
The spinal column is the center for control of our posture and provides stability when we stand. It also allows for flexibility, so that we can do different things such as stand or sit, stretch backward or bend forward. Because of its many functions, the spine is very vulnerable to injury — injuries can occur to the bones themselves, the ligaments that connect the bones, discs that separate each vertebral bone from one another, or muscles that give movement to our spinal skeleton. The vertebral column is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by spongy disks and classified into four distinct areas.
The Cervical Spine has 7 interlocking vertebrae. (C1 to C7) These bones form a flexible framework for the neck and support the head. Here the brain stem becomes the spinal cord. The forward curve of the neck is known as Lordosis. This curve permits proper range of motion. Trauma, such as whiplash can compromise spinal curves. This can cause spinal joints to become fixated and not move enough or Hypermobile and move too much affecting the nervous system.
There are 12 Thoracic vertebrae located in the middle back. (T1 to T12) The Thoracic vertebrae should have a slightly different shape to accept the curved bones that are the rib cage. Like the other vertebrae, each has a bump on the back side you can feel up and down your spine called Spinous Process.
The Lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae in the lower back. (L1 to L5) The vertebrae support most of the body’s weight and are attached to many of the back muscles. Like the neck, it should have a neutral forward curve. Problems here can produce compensation reactions in upper regions of the spine. Sciatic Nerves exiting the spine from this area run down the back of each leg.
The Sacrum consists of 5 sacral vertebrae in children, which become fused into a single triangular bone after age 26. (S1 to S5) The pelvis is connected to the spinal column at the sacrum section. Here the fused bone connects to the hips at the Sacroliac joints. Spondylolisthesis results when the Lumbar spine slips forward of the sacrum.
The Coccyx also known as the tailbone is at the base of the spinal column. (4 fused vertebrae) By adulthood the 4 coccygeal vertebrae fuse to form one bone. Many muscles connect to the coccyx.
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