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Understanding Your Spine

Understanding your spine is the first step to proper spinal health

A skeletal xray from 4 diferent views.The 24 separate bones, or vertebrae, all stacked on top of each other make up the structure known as your spine. Those vertebrae are the main framework that protects the most important spinal cord. There are five sections of the spine:

• cervical (top 7 vertebrae)
• thoracic (12 vertebrae)
• lumbar (5 vertebrae)
• sacrum
• coccyx

To perform (hopefully) all of those complex movements that the spine is capable of, between each vertebrae is a disc that essentially works as a cushion to absorb shock of the impact your spine endures during both normal activity such as walking, or high stress activity like surfing. And holding the vertebrae and discs together are the ligaments. And completing the spinal structure are the tendons that attach the muscles to the spine itself.

The Sections of the Spine

The cervical spine, the neck, consists of the top seven vertebrae. The cervical spine is the most flexible, complex and mobile region of the spine and enables you to move your head from side to side and up and down. In the cervical spine are two very unique vertebra, the atlas and the axis. It is these vertebrae that are specially adapted to enable such complicated rotation.

The thoracic spine are the 12 vertebrae below the cervical spine section of the spine. Your ribs connect to the vertebrae in the thoracic spine.

The lumbar spine or ‘lower back’ consists of five vertebrae. Sometimes however, there is a sixth vertebrae in the lumbar section of the spine.The lumbar is located below the thoracic section of the spine. The lower back bears a great deal of the weight of the body and for that reason is particularly vulnerable to back pain.

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