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Each section of the spine is made up of individual bones called vertebrae. The anatomy of the spine is usually described by dividing up the spine into three major sections: the cervical, the thoracic, and the lumbar spine. There are seven cervical vertebrae, twelve thoracic vertebrae, and five lumbar vertebrae. Below the lumbar spine is a bone called the sacrum. The sacrum attaches the spine to the pelvis.
An individual spinal segment is made up of several parts. The body of the vertebra is the primary area of weight bearing and each body is separated by a fibrous discs which separate each of the vertebrae. The disc is made up of a firbrous outer layer called the annulus fibrosis and an inner, shock absorbing layer called the nucleus pulposis. 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 extand out at an angle of 90 degrees to the spinous process and provide attachment for back muscles to the spine.
There are four ‘facet’ joints associated with each spinal level. Two attach to the level above, two to the level below. These joints whilst providing stability for the spine also provide mobility to enable movement.
Please note that Injury Treatment have added some new and informative articles on general back injuries in the Expert’s Say area compliments of www.badback.com.au
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