Anatomy Of The Spine


If you've ever experienced back pain, neck pain or sciatica, in order to learn about effective treatments it can be helpful to first understand the basic anatomy of the spine.

The spinal anatomy is a wonderful combination of the spinal cord protected by strong vertebra, big muscles, flexible tendons, ligaments, and sensitive nerves.

When the body is in the normal condition, the anatomy of the spine is strong yet flexible. The spine protects the spinal cord from which the nerve roots radiate, while it also allows for plenty of mobility and range of motion.

Most of us take the strength and flexibility of the spine for granted.... until back pain arises. Once it happens you'll want to learn what's wrong and how it can be treated, especially if the pain persists for more than a few days.

Spinal anatomy – Cervical, thoracic, lumbar and Sacral Spine.

The spine is classified into four main regions – Cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral.

Cervical spine

The neck contains seven cervical vertebrae bones. The neck is responsible for supporting the weight of the head, as well as protecting the nerves in this highly flexible part of the spine.

Most of the head's side-to-side movement comes from the top two bones, C1 and C2. Most of the flexing and extension movement, front to back, is provided by C5 through C7.

If you're feeling acute cervical pain, it is usually caused by a strain or trauma to muscles, tendons or ligaments.

We can initiate a range of treatment options designed to reduce pain and increase your flexibility and mobility.

Thoracic spine

The thoracic spine consists of the twelve vertebrae in the upper part of your back. Since the rib cage is so firmly attached to the back here, this section of the spine provides more stability to the upper back.

Since the thoracic spine allows very little flexibility, injuries to this section of the spine are not seen as often as other parts of the spine.

If the large shoulder and back muscles or joints become irritated or strained, there may be significant back pain. Pain in this area should be evaluated as it can indicate issues with the rib cage and organs protected inside.

Lumbar spine

The low back moves much more than the upper back, and it also carries the full weight of the upper body. This means the lumbar spine, or low back area, is the most frequently injured section of the spine. The lumbar spine consists of L1 through L5 numbered vertebrae.


The sacrum is just below L5 which fans out to create stability for the pelvic bones. It ends with the tailbone.

Source of back pain

There are many potential sources of pain along the entire anatomy of the spine. Sometimes, the main nerve roots that go to the arms and legs become compressed or irritated.

The disc between each vertebra may become herniated. When this happens, the disc bulges outward and may irritate or put pressure on nearby nerves.

Smaller nerves in spinal joints and around the spine may also become irritated. Occasionally, the large back muscles become strained, or the joints and ligaments are injured.

At Brook Chiropractic Neurology, we take the time to identify and locate the source of your pain. We perform thorough exams, listen carefully to your medical history, and we may recommend some tests. Learning your history is the beginning of a plan for your personal treatment.