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Spine Anatomy and Pain

Anatomy of the Spine

Spine anatomy is composed of flexible ligaments and tendons, strong bones, highly sensitive nerves and large muscles. The structure of this anatomy is efficient in terms of strength that protects the highly sensitive roots of nerves. However, it maintains flexibility essential for the mobility of the body on various planes and it must maintain strength, flexibility and structure for overall spine health. When something goes wrong with the spine anatomy, daily living can be compromised and the quality of your life lowered. Understanding the structure and basic anatomy of the spine is an important part of patient education that our physicians at Arizona Pain Treatment Centers provide.

The usual back pain we feel might mean that there is something wrong with your spinal column. It must be borne in mind that your spine may produce back pain in a variety of causes such as irritation of large roots of nerves that extend through arms and legs, irritation of smaller nerves that can cause innervations of the spine, strained large paired muscles in your back, injury to ligaments, bones or joints, and the disc area being the source of noticeable pain. One way of understanding the various causes of neck pain, leg pain and back pain and where is begins is by reviewing the anatomy of spine.

There are four spinal regions namely the cervical spine , thoracic spine, lumbar spine and sacral region.
Cervical Spine: This spinal region is located in the neck. It is composed of seven bones (vertebral bodies) that tend to become smaller as they come closer to the skulls base. Almost all of the cervical spines rotation comes from the two segments at the top and most of its extension/flexion movements come from C5-C6 & C6-C7. Every motion segment is named after the two connected bones or vertebral bodies.

Thoracic Spine: This spinal region is located in the upper back. It consists of 12 vertebral bodies. At every level of thoracic spine, the rib cage is firmly attached providing stability and supporting the upper back which permits very little movement. This spinal area is a strong cage designed for protecting vital organs such as lungs and the heart. The structure of the upper back is not meant for motion and thus the thoracic spine is rarely injured. Nonetheless, the large shoulder and back muscles can be irritated and there can be upper back joint dysfunction that may lead to the production of noticeable back pain.

Lumbar Spine: This spinal region has more motions than the lower back or thoracic spine. It also carries the entire weight of one’s torso. Thus, most cases of injury involve the lower back. There are 5 segments that allow motion is this spine. Hence, the lower segments experience an amount of motion that is disproportionate like L3 to L4 as well as L4 to L5. The said two motion segments are the most susceptible to any damage. L4-L5 and L5-S1 are the most susceptible to strain that tend to herniate most frequently. This is one of the causes of lower back pain and in some cases, numbness affecting a sufferer’s leg and foot.

Sacral Region: The sacrum is a bone located below lumbar spine. This bone makes up the pelvis’ rear or back part. It is a triangular bone that fits in the center of the pelvis. It bridges the gap between the spine and the body’s lower half. Pain that comes from the sacrum is referred to as “sacroiliac joint dysfunction”. More cases of it involve women.

It is of vital importance for us to take ample time in getting to know this essential body part because much of the quality of our lives depends on healthy spines.

Any questions regarding the anatomy of the spine and how it relates to a common condition or system can be answered and assessed by our pain treatment team.

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