Overview of the Spine

Given the vital importance that the spine plays and the support it provides the human body, it is no wonder that people take spine conditions very seriously. However, back pain and spine injuries are incredibly common. In fact, back pain is one of the most common disorders for which people seek medical attention and treatment. Whether the pain results from physical trauma or strain (like a car accident or sports injury) or finds its roots in a medical condition like degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, having a thorough understanding of your spine condition is essential in improving your quality of life.

The spine is divided into three mobile sections—cervical, thoracic and lumbar—with the immobile sacrum below and is the main supportive structure of the body and the central component for movement.

Common complaints are associated with each section:

Neck Pain (Cervical)  

Neck pain associated with the cervical area of the spine can be caused by injury (such as whiplash), stress, poor posture or ergonomics (such as working at a computer keyboard at the wrong height), arthritis, rupture of a disc and other less common but potentially serious conditions. Common cervical conditions include degenerative disc, herniated disc, spinal canal stenosis and spinal cord compression.

 Mid-Back Pain (Thoracic)

Mid-spine pain associated with the thoracic area of your spine is less common due to the support provided by the rib cage. Conditions involving the thoracic spine include scoliosis, herniated discspinal cord compression and compression fractures

Lower Back Pain (Lumbar)

Low back pain associated with the lumbar spine is a common complaint. The lumbar spine provides the support for the trunk of the body. Low back symptoms may be due to musculoskeletal disorders related to the muscles, ligaments and joints; rupture of a disc; poor posture or ergonomics; asymmetric flexibility; scoliosis; arthritis; and other less common but potentially serious conditions. Lumbar conditions include herniated disc, spinal canal stenosis, degenerative disc, scoliosis and compression fractures.

 Sacrum Pain

The sacrum is a large, triangular bone at the lowest part of the spine and at the upper and back part of the pelvic cavity, where it is inserted like a wedge between the two hip bones. The upper part connects with the last lumbar vertebra, and the bottom part with the coccyx (tailbone). Pain in the sacrum area can often be defined as either dull and aching or sharp. Common conditions related to sacrum pain are osteoarthritis and sacroiliitis.


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