Disclaimer: This information is for patient education only. Any specific questions regarding care should be discussed with your orthopaedic doctor.

Overview of the Spine

The spine consists of 33 vertebral bones, split into five sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal (from top to bottom). The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae and connects the skull to the spine. Twelve vertebrae make up the thoracic spine, and the ribs connect to these. Next, the lumbar spine (or lower back) consists of five vertebrae. The sacrum is a bone made up of five blended vertebrae, and this bone attaches to the pelvis. The lowest part of the spine is the coccyx, which is made up of the final four vertebrae and these are very small. Together, the five sections of the spine work to support the torso, limbs, and skull, while also protecting the nerves and spinal cord. The spinal cord stretches from the cervical spine to the top of the lumbar spine, and fits through each vertebra. Between each vertebra is a fibrous disc which provides cushion for the vertebra, and allows for spinal movement.

Types of Spine Pain

  • Dull pains in the lower back
  • Sharp or shooting pains through legs
  • Pain with movement or straightening back
  • Pain in shoulders or neck
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pain lasting longer than two weeks

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