Carle Spine Institute610 North Lincoln Ave. Urbana, Illinois 61801 | Medical Advice Nurse 217-383-6555
|Home >> Educational Resources >> Anatomy Library
To communicate with your back doctor, it helps to know the terms your physician might use to explain and describe your condition. Just as dentists use a number to identify each tooth, a spine doctor has a labeling system for each link on the chain that makes up the spinal column. To clear things up a bit, here is a "crash course" in spine anatomy.
The chest area contains the thoracic vertebrae, T-1 through T-12. The thoracic vertebrae do not rotate as much as the neck and low back. Consequently, this area of the spine is more stable and is generally less susceptible to injury. Relatively few back pain cases involve the T-level vertebrae.
Below the thoracic vertebrae are the five lumbar vertebrae, and below that is the sacrum. The lumbar vertebrae are labeled L1 to L5. This area is the most prone to injury, because it bears the most weight when you sit, stand, push, pull or lift.
Below the lumbar spine area is a series of fused bones known as the sacrum. At the bottom tip of the spinal column structure is the coccyx, or the tailbone.
Each rounded vertebra body has pedicles and laminae, facet joints, and the bony transverse and spinous processes, which are the narrow, finger-like spikes pointing out from the sides and back of the vertebra.
This spinal column is held in place by surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons that act as supporting guy wires. When working properly, the spine is able to bend and twist. When muscles and ligaments weaken, problems arise in the stability of the spine. Muscles and ligaments can strain, and discs and facet joints can be injured.
The Spinal Cord
Nerve impingements in the cervical area can cause pain to radiate into the shoulder and arm. When discs are injured in the low back area, pain can radiate into the legs.
Lumbar Spine and Sacrum
If you think of the spine as a tall radio tower that must withstand the force of crosswinds, the muscles and ligaments of the back are the guy wires that provide support to the tower. The extensor muscles enable us to arch our back and are located in the back. Flexor muscles are also known as abdominal (stomach) muscles and are located in front of the spine. The oblique muscles are located on our sides, around the waist area, and they help stabilize our torsos and control the pelvis.
Quick navigation links:
Sitemap | Home | Downloads | Patient Rights | About Carle Spine Institute in Illinois | Center of Excellence | Spine Physician Bios | Illinois Spine Center Overview | Locations in Urbana, Mattoon, Danville, IL | For Case Managers | In The News | Spine Problems | Back Pain | Neck Pain | Degenerative Disc | Herniated Disc | Bone Spur | Stenosis | Scoliosis | Kyphosis | Spondylolysis | Spinal Tumor | Treatment | Diagnostics | PM&R | Physical Therapy | Nonsurgical Care | Spine Surgery Options in Illinois | Artificial Disc | Minimally Invasive Surgery | Home Remedies | Educational Resources | Spine Health E-zine | Symptoms Chart | Anatomy Library | Exercise Library | Back Exercises | Neck Exercises | Strengthening Exercises | Preventing Back Pain | How to Lift | Clinical Outcomes | Our Report Card | NCQA Recognition | Contact Carle Spine Institute in Illinois | Appointment | Second opinion before spine surgery | Billing | Employment
Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Physician Group contract with insurance providers separately and may or may not choose to participate in all of the same insurance plans. Patients are urged to check with their carriers as to whether services are covered for either or both organizations. Copyright 2010 The Carle Foundation