About the Spine (Part 1)

by Jason Huffman Huffman Clinic at Napa Valley Orthopaedics

The spine is one of the most important parts of our bodies. It’s essential to understand how it works in order to prevent injuries and back pain.

Your spine is made up of a series of small bones called vertebrae. Your vertebrae are divided into three sections, along with the sacrum and tailbone:

· Cervical: Seven bones in your neck make up the cervical spine. They begin at the base of the skull and end at the upper chest.

· Thoracic: Twelve bones make up your upper back. These start from the upper chest to mid-back and connect to your rib cage.

· Lumbar: Five bones make up your lower back. The lumbar vertebrae are larger because they carry more of your body’s weight.

· Sacrum and Tailbone: Nine bones make up your sacrum and tailbone, located at the bottom of the three sections of your spine.

The spine is a complex structure that is always responding to constant demands. It holds up your head, shoulders, and upper body. You are able to stand up straight, thanks to the support of your spine. It’s the reason you’re able to bend and twist, all while protecting your spinal cord.

What Are the Parts of Your Spine?

Understanding how your spine works can help you understand the common causes of back pain.

· Vertebrae: Your spine is made up of bones stacked on top of one another. Vertebral bones create a canal that protects the spinal cord.

· Spinal cord and nerves: These “electrical cables” travel through the spinal canal to carry messages between your brain and muscles. Nerves branch out from the spinal canal through openings in the vertebrae.

· Muscles and ligaments: These provide support and stability for your spine and upper body. Strong ligaments connect your vertebrae and help keep the spinal column in position.

· Facet joints: The small joints between the back of your vertebrae help your spine move. These facet joints are important for the rotation of your spine but may develop arthritis and become a source of low back or neck pain.

What Are Intervertebral Discs?

In between each vertebra, you’ll find flat and round discs which are about a half-inch thick. These intervertebral discs serve as shock absorbers between two vertebrae. When you walk or run, each disc prevents the vertebrae from bumping against one another. The discs between the vertebrae enable your back’s flexibility.

What Do the Spinal Cord and Nerves Do?

The spinal cord carries motor information from your brain to your body. It also carries sensory information from your body back to your brain and coordinates important reflexes in your body. Nerves branch out from the spinal cord through openings in the vertebrae to carry messages between the brain and muscles.

The spinal cord ends in the lower back and continues as a bundle of nerve roots called the “cauda equina”. They exit the spinal canal through openings in the vertebrae (foramen), just like other nerve roots. In the pelvis, some of the nerves group into the sciatic nerve, which is a nerve that starts in your lower back and extends down the leg.

In many cases, back pain is related to ageing discs. In children and young adults, disks have high water content. As you age, the discs begin to dry out and shrink. They lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae, which can result in pain.

Spinal Nerve Root, Spinal Nerves and the Foramen

The spinal nerve root is where the spinal nerves branch off from the spinal cord. The spinal nerves then pass through small openings of the vertebrae. These nerves affect the movement and feeling in the muscles and skin. They are also involved in the function of your digestive and urinary systems.

Movement of the Spine

  • A healthy spine can move in six ways:
  • Flexion — forward bending
  • Extension — backward bending
  • Side Bending — bending to the left and right
  • Rotation — twisting left and right

Article Source: About the Spine (Part 1)

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About Jason Huffman Junior   Huffman Clinic at Napa Valley Orthopaedics

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Joined APSense since, November 18th, 2019, From Napa, United States.

Created on Dec 26th 2019 23:30. Viewed 228 times.


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