Introduction to Spine Anatomy

The spine is made up of a series of connected bones called “vertebrae,” which encircle and protect the spinal cord. The disc is a combination of strong connective tissues that hold one vertebra to the next and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae.

Nerves branch from the spinal cord and pass through openings in the vertebrae to other parts of the body. Several of these nerves join at the base of the spine to form the sciatic nerve, which runs down the leg.

Normal Spine Anatomy

The normal anatomy of the spine is usually described by dividing up the spine into 3 major sections: the cervical, the thoracic, and the lumbar spine. (Below the lumbar spine is a bone called the sacrum, which is part of the pelvis.) Each section is made up of individual bones called vertebrae. There are 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae.Spine Anatomy Example

An individual vertebra is made up of several parts. The body of the vertebra is the primary area of weight-bearing and provides a resting place for the fibrous discs which separate each of the vertebrae. The lamina covers the spinal canal, the large hole in the center of the vertebra through which the spinal nerves pass.

The spinous process is the bone you can feel when running your hands down your back. The paired transverse processes are oriented 90 degrees to the spinous process and provide attachment for back muscles.

Determining Treatment

Your Envision Orthopaedics & Spine physician will take your medical history and perform a physical examination. After diagnostic testing to confirm your diagnosis and locate the source of your pain, your physician will determine which orthopedic and spine treatment is most beneficial to you. A course of action will be designed and decided upon by you and your doctor.

The best treatment for each patient must be based on an accurate diagnosis. Although it is appealing to have the latest procedure, the newest medication, the smallest micro-surgery, or arthroscopic surgery, the best treatment must be appropriate for each individual patient’s condition.

Treatment must also be based on scientific evidence, not marketing on television or in news magazines. At Envision Orthopaedics & Spine, we pride ourselves on making correct and complete diagnoses and then offering our patients the most effective treatment for their unique problems.

Spine surgery must be taken seriously. It is imperative to select the right procedure for the right patient at the right time. Contact our experts today for more information.