The spine is comprised of 33 vertebrae (bones stacked on top of each other in a “building-block” fashion) that have 4 distinct regions: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral. Discs, cushion-like tissues separate most vertebrae and act as the spine’s shock absorbing system. The disc has a tough outer ring of fibers called the Annulus Fibrosus and a soft gel-like center called the Nucleus Pulposus.
There are seven flexible cervical (neck) vertebrae that support the head. There are twelve thoracic (chest) vertebrae, which attach to ribs. The five lumbar vertebrae are large and carry the majority of the body weight. The sacral region helps distribute the body weight to the pelvis and hips. The spinal cord is housed within the protective spinal column. Spinal nerves come from the spinal cord and travel through a tunnel or foramen. The nerves provide sensory (allowing you to touch and feel) and motor information (allowing the muscles to function) to the entire body.