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Get To Know Your Spinal Anatomy

About the Spine

The human spine is divided into 4 distinct sections of bones known as “vertebrae”. At the top of the spinal column, the cervical spine (or neck) is made up of 7 vertebrae. Just below with 12 vertebrae, the thoracic spine comprises the mid-torso section of the human body. Below that is the lumbar spine with 5 vertebrae. Finally, at the very bottom of the spinal column—in the area of the hips—is the sacrum, the triangular-shaped portion made up of 5 fused bones.

All voluntary movement in your body is controlled by the brain, whose main communication pathway to the muscles is a large bundle of nerves collectively known as the spinal cord. Protection for this critical pathway is provided by the bones of the spinal column.

These bones, or vertebral bodies, have a number of important functions—one is to encircle and guard the spinal cord against trauma and another is to provide the skeletal support we need to walk upright.

Your Spinal Discs

Between each pair of vertebrae is a spinal disc that acts like a shock absorber and provides flexibility during your daily activities.

The combination of the spinal disc and the attached vertebral bodies is called a spinal segment or level. At each spinal segment, nerves branch from the spinal cord and pass through openings between the vertebrae called foramen. These nerves travel to the arms and legs to control movement and relay sensation back to the brain.



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