Learning the Regions of Your Spine

The spine is a complex system of tiny bones called vertebrae working together. This system allows you to bend your back, twist your hips, stand upright, and move your head. While it may be overwhelming to review the functions of every single bone within the spinal cord, understanding the general regions and what they do can help you prevent common back pain conditions. Four areas divide the spine: sacrum, lumbar, cervical, and thoracic.

Sacrum

The sacrum is the very bottom part of your spine. It connects your spine to your hip bones. The sacrum is made up of five fused vertebrae that – together with your iliac bones – make up a ring called the pelvic girdle that forms your hips.

Lumbar

The lumbar spine primarily covers your lower back region. This spinal area is made up of five vertebrae that carry most of your body weight. Due to the added stress, the bones in the lumbar region tend to be larger to compensate for actions like lifting heavy objects.

Thoracic

The thoracic region of your spine protects your heart and lungs by carrying the rib cage. Even though this area has the most vertebra of any other spinal region, it is the most limited part of your back concerning flexibility.

Cervical

The cervical region is the most unique and flexible part of your spine. The purpose of your cervical spine is to carry the weight of your head, which usually weighs at about 10 pounds. The cervical region holds seven vertebrae, two of them are specialized. The first connects the spinal cord directly to the skull, which allows you to make nodding motions. The second vertebra lets you move your head side-to-side, or shake your head in a “no” motion.

You may notice that the name of many spine surgeries indicates where the operation will take place. Understanding the root of your back pain is important for spinal surgeons to provide you the correct treatment. While surgery is not always the answer to back pain, when all other options do not seem to work, it may be time to see which procedure is best for you. If you are experiencing back pain and looking for treatment in New Jersey, contact one of our offices today to set up an appointment.