Everyone’s spinal column is comprised of 33 bones called vertebrae. Through the middle of each vertebra is a cavity, and together these cavities form a tunnel through which the spinal cord passes. In essence a massive collection of nerve fibers, the spinal cord serves as the communication channel between the brain and the rest of the body.
The nerve fibers that branch out from this central highway are called peripheral nerves, and the nerve impulses that travel throughout the nervous system are what directs the body’s movements and what receives sensations from the outside world for the brain to process.
One of the principal functions of the spinal column is to protect the spinal cord. Protecting the spinal cord is essential, because damage or pressure on the nerves here (or in other parts of the body) can cause pain.
Other symptoms may include numbness, tingling, burning, pressure, or weakness. Severe damage to the spinal cord may cause paralysis below the site of injury.
As an essential part of the skeleton, the spinal column also serves to support the weight of the body. Each vertebra varies in size depending its role in supporting body weight.
Functional spinal units are the elementary components of the spinal column. Each unit consists of two vertebrae and a cartilaginous disc in between them. Serving as cushions between the vertebrae, these discs are made of tough fibrous tissues called the annulus fibrosis and have a gelatinous substance called the nucleus pulposus in the center. In healthy discs, the fibrous tissues fully enclose the nucleus pulposus. This arrangement is what allows the spine to support seated postures. Meanwhile, standing postures are aided by two specialized joints on the back anatomy of each functional spinal unit, and they also protect the spinal cord from damaging movements. Fibrous ligaments connect these joints, helping to stabilize the spinal column.
Doctors divide the spine into four sections: the cervical, the thoracic, the lumbar, and the sacral. Each of the 33 vertebrae is assigned a letter and number depending on where it is located in the spine.
- Cervical – The cervical section consists of the seven small vertebrae near the head. The spine’s top two vertebrae, C1 and C2, allow the head to turn. Vertebrae C3 through C7
are responsible for bending of the neck.
- Thoracic – The twelve vertebrae (T1 through T12) of this region form the trunk of the
body and anchor the rib cage. Together, the thoracic spinal region and the rib cage
serve to protect the heart and the lungs.
- Lumbar – The lumbar region is the low back anatomy, defined by vertebrae L1 through L5. This
part of the spine supports the upper body and allows for movement of the trunk.
- Sacral – Vertebrae S1 through S5 are fused together into the coccyx, which is the
medical term for the tail bone.
The spine is curved in order to help it absorb shocks and distribute biomechanical stress. Lordotic curves are the two curves in the cervical and lumbar regions that open toward the back anatomy of the body. The kyphotic curves open toward the body’s front and are in the thoracic and sacral regions. It’s important to understand there is a normal structure of the spine. Much like there is a normal eye-site, blood pressure, or body temperature of the body. Our Chiropractic office in Columbus serves to restore the normal structure in the spine using advanced techniques and therapies.