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About Your Spine

Your spine is a column of bones that forms the axial skeleton. The thicker the bones the taller you are. The spinal column held together by powerful muscles and ligamnents provides strong, flexible support for the trunk of the body as well as vital protection for the delicate spinal cord housed within it.

The spine actually consists of 33 vertebrae stacked vertically upon each other. The vertebrae are connected by facet joints at the back of the spine and are separated by an intervertebral disc between each vertebra. The discs function as shock absorbers.

The vertebrae can be classified into five segments. The first 24 are flexable. These segments include 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae and 5 lumbar vertebrae. The 9 fused vertebrae consist of 5  sacral vertebrae and 4 coccygeal vertebrae.

The spinal cord runs through a canal located at the back of the vertebrae, and extends from the brain stem to the lumbar region of the spine. Nerves branch out from the spinal cord, sending messages for movement and body functions to the rest of the body.

The anatomical shape of the adult spine also contains four basic curvatures. The thoracic and sacral regions are concave anteriorly, while the cervical and lumbar regions are concave posteriorly. This unique shape of the spine allows it to support the weight of the human body.

The Spinal Column and vertebrae