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Spine Anatomy

The spine is a vital structure of the body providing stability as you walk, run, sit, stand, and bend. The key building blocks of the spine include vertebrae, discs, muscles, tendons, and the spinal cord. As you age, your spinal discs slowly compress which can lead to a herniated disc. Injuries and other medical conditions can also lead to a herniated disc. At Auburn Chiropractic Associates, we care about your health. We offer preventative methods of treatment for an overall healthy spine and healthy life.

What is the Spine?

The spine is the body's central support structure. It protects and transmits the spinal cord from the base of the head to the lower back. The spine transmits nerves to and from the brain as these nerves orchestrate the function of all body processes. If the spine is injured or generally unhealthy it may cause serious pain and dysfunction in many vital systems of your body.

Parts of the Spine

A healthy spine has three curves and is shaped like an ā€œSā€ when viewed from the side. The curves allow for movement to absorb shock and protect the spine from insidious damage. There are various aspects of the spine that have different purposes.

Vertebrae: There are 33 vertebrae stacked one on top of the other to form the spinal canal. The spinal canal houses the spinal cord and nerves. The purpose of the spinal canal is to protect the spinal cord from injury as the nerves travel to all body systems and structures. Most of the vertebrae move individually to enable general body movement patterns.

Facet Joints: Facet joints are covered with cartilage that allows the vertebrae to slide against each other. These joints allow flexibility and enable you to bend, turn and provide stability as well. Over time, facet joints can develop arthritis and cause stiffness as well as neck and back pain.

Intervertebral Discs: Intervertebral discs are shaped like round cushions that are positioned above and below each vertebra. The discs resemble jelly donuts. Each disc has a soft, gel-like center known as the nucleus pulposus that is surrounded by a flexible cartilage ring. The purpose of the intervertebral disc is to act as a shock absorber. When a herniated disc is damaged the gel-like nucleus can leak out. This leakage is often referred to as a herniated or extruded disc. When the disc causes pressure or inflammation on spinal nerves, it often results in pain in the neck, arms, back, hips, and legs. The common back pain that radiates into the hips and legs is often referred to as sciatica.

Spinal Cord & Nerves: The spinal cord is a column of nerves that travel through the spine. The spinal cord extends from the top of the neck to the lower back. There are over 31 nerves that exit the cord throughout the spine which send messages between the brain, muscles, and organs of the body.

Soft Tissue: Soft tissues are ligaments, tendons, and muscles that secure the bones and joints together. These tissues support the spine and provide the ability for motion of the joints. This intricate system of the spine and nerves enables many movement patterns and static postural positions of the body.

Spine Segments

While there are 33 vertebrae, they are divided into five different segments. Starting at the top of the neck and then down towards your lower back. The different sections are:

Cervical (neck): The top part of the spine includes seven vertebrae (C1-C7). The primary function of these vertebrae includes turning, tilting, and nodding your head. The shape of the cervical spine usually forms an inward C shape referred to as a lordosis. The nerves that provide sensation and function of the arms and hands exit the spinal cord at this level of the spine.

Thoracic (middle back): The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae (T1-T12). The shape of this section typically forms a backward C and is called a kyphotic curve. This part of the spine is attached to the rib cage which protects vital organs in the chest.

Lumbar (lower back): There are five vertebrae that make up the lower part of the spine (L1-L5). The purpose of the lumbar spine is to support the upper spine and is connected to the pelvis. This aspect of the spine also bears most of your upper body weight. Therefore, many back problems can arise on this part of the spine. This part of the spine bends inward, creating a C-shaped curve known as a lordosis.

Sacrum: This bone is shaped like a triangle and connects the lumbar spine to the pelvis. The pelvis and sacrum create a ring which is known as the pelvic girdle. The pelvis protects the lower abdominal structures; the gastrointestinal, genital, and urinary systems.

Coccyx: The last spine segment is made up of four fused vertebrae. It resembles a tail and is often referred to as the tailbone. This area of the spine may become very painful after falls and with continuous pressure as with bad posture.

Auburn Chiropractic Associates

At Auburn Chiropractic Associates, we help you achieve a healthier and more active lifestyle. We strive to accurately diagnose and treat your condition. We are experienced in the treatment of back pain, neck pain, and headaches. We use conservative treatment methods without the use of medications or surgeries. Request an appointment today or give us a call at 334-826-2225.

Auburn Chiropractic Associates

1735 E University Dr Ste 103
Auburn, AL 36830
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Mon: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tues:8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wed: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thur: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

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