It’s a little obvious and probably an understatement, but the spine is one of the most important parts of the body. It gives us freedom and flexibility to move and bend. Perhaps more importantly than that, it protects our spinal cord, which connects the brain to the rest of out body. Anytime we walk, run, or play we have our spine to thank.
The spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae are generally separated into three main sections: the cervical, thoracic and lumbar. As spine specialist we see and treat problems in all three of these areas. Each area has unique characteristics, meaning that each section presents its own kind of problems and back pain.
The cervical spine is consists of the first seven vertebrae of the spine. It starts just below the skull and ends around your shoulders, basically comprising the area of your neck. This section of the spine is very flexible and more mobile than the other regions of the spine. Just think about how flexible your neck is. This flexibility also means that the cervical spine is at risk for injury from strong, sudden movements like whiplash. Because we have limited muscle support in our necks, the thin set of bones and soft tissue in the neck has a big job to do, so injuries are common.
The thoracic spine is the largest section, consisting of the middle twelve vertebrae. These vertebrae connect to your ribs and form part of the back wall of the thorax. The thoracic spine is less mobile due to the narrower and thinner intervertebral discs of this section. Most back pain in this area is associated with muscular irritation or other soft tissue problems, but can also be the result of trauma or an underlying condition.
The lumbar spine is the lowest region of the spine. There are usually five vertebrae, although some people are born with six. The vertebrae in this section are unique because they connect the spine to the pelvis. This is also why low-back pain is also common. The lumbar region is where most of our weight bearing and body movement takes place, meaning it’s particularly vulnerable to injury.
If you’re experiencing any kind of chronic back pain in any of these areas, come in and see us at The SMART Clinic. Our trained spine specialists can help you understand the source of your pain and tell you the best course of action for treatment.