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Spinal Anatomy

November 3, 2020

The spine is made of 33 individual bones stacked one on top of the other. This spinal column provides three main functions. It provides a site of attachment for muscles and ligaments which allows movement by contraction of the muscles attached. It provides the main support for our body, allowing us to stand upright, bend, and twist. It also functions to protect the spinal cord located within contained within the spinal canal.

The spinal column consists of:

1.       Cervical spine (neck): The main function of the cervical spine is to support the weight of the head. It consists of 7 specialised vertebrae that permits great flexibility allowing us to extend, rotate and bend our heads forwards and to the side.

2.       Thoracic spine (mid back): this consist of 12 vertebrae each of which have ribs attached that serve to protect our heart and lungs. The thoracic spine contributes to bend forwards and rotating such as looking over our shoulder.

3.       Lumbar spine (low back): the main function of the lumbar spine is to bear the weight of the body and consists of 5 large vertebrae. They are the largest segments of the vertebral column as it supports greater weight of the body against gravity. The lumbar spine helps us to bend forward and extend backwards and helps us to rotate our bodies around our hips.


Each vertebra (bones of the spine) consists of a vertebral body, a vertebral arch, bony protrusions called the spinous and transverse process and facet joints. The facet joints of the spine allow back motion to occur.

Each vertebra in your spine is separated and cushioned by an intervertebral disc, which functions as a shock absorber and keeps the bones from rubbing together  

Strong muscles and bones, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves contribute to a healthy spine. Yet, any of these structures affected by strain, injury and can cause pain

In this series, we will be taking a closer look at common injuries to the lower and mid back and how we can treat them.