If you’ve never had back pain, then you may not even give your spine much of a second thought. It’s there holding you erect and is attached to other parts of your body. If, on the other hand, you suffer with back pain, you most likely want to get intimate with the details of your spine, what affects its health and how you can take better care of it.
Either way, a little knowledge can go a long way in protecting your spine health. SC spinal physicians want you to protect your back for the rest of your life. Whether you suffer from back pain or not, get to know the vital structure that extends from the top of your neck to the bottom of your tailbone. To know it is to love it.
The vertebrae are the 24 bones that make up your spine. The bones in the vertebrae are divided in five categories:
- The top seven bones are part of the cervical spine. They control the flexibility in your neck and support your head movements. Cervical vertebrae are slightly smaller than the rest of the bones in your spine.
- The next 12 vertebrae are part of the thoracic spine and are connected to your ribs, which extend just past your shoulder blades and protect your vital organs. You get your stability from the thoracic vertebrae as well as the support to lift heavy objects.
- Many people are familiar with the next five vertebrae of the lumbar spinal region. These are the biggest and heaviest vertebrae and support the total weight of your whole spine. Most lower back pain occurs in the hard-working lumbar spine.
- The sacrum is a bone that’s shaped like a triangle and connects your spine to your hips. This vertebrae controls signals to your genitalia, your upper legs and thighs. It’s very tough and rarely damaged except in traumatic accidents.
- The coccyx is the last vertebrae, also called the tailbone. It’s made up of four bones fused together to support you while sitting. The tailbone on a woman is slightly rotated to accommodate childbirth, leaving it more exposed to injury.
The vertebrae column is a long, flexible rod that covers your spinal cord, which includes the nerves that connect to your brain and signal all other activity in your body. The column also attaches to your ribs and supports your head. The network of nerves that makes up the spinal cord weaves in and out of the tube, connecting to your arms and legs. Signals from your brain pass along the spinal cord to control sensation and movement.
Discs, Muscles and Ligaments
Discs are the spongy shock absorbers in your spine that take all the pressure off the vertebrae so they don’t crack every time you move. Discs are designed like jelly donuts, softer in the middle, filled with a liquid substance. When injured, some of that substance leaks out and causes the vertebrae to rub together. For spine health, SC doctors recommend that you maintain a healthy weight to keep discs intact; those extra pounds put too much pressure on the soft centers of the discs.
Your spine also includes more than 120 ligaments and muscles entwined throughout your spine and spinal column. The muscles give your back its flexibility as you bend and twist. Ligaments stabilize your abdomen, back and sides.
Get Spine Health — SC, NC, GA and FL
The spine physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute want you to take care of the precious parts of your back. When you do have back pain, the source of the problem is not always easily apparent because there are so many moving parts in your spine. Always seek guidance from one or more of the experienced back physicians at SSI before trying any home remedies.
Get to know your spine better to treat it better. Understand how your body works together for your overall well being. Develop walking, sitting and standing techniques that lead to a healthy back. Spine health — SC, NC, GA, FL or wherever you are — means you and your back on very familiar and friendly terms.