Did you know that when you were born, you had 33 vertebrae (the bones that make up your spinal column), but now, you have only 24? That’s because the separate bones that make up the sacrum and the coccyx, down at the very bottom of our spine, fuse together as we grow. The back is an amazing piece of nature’s engineering, and stepping back to appreciate its many marvels is important for understanding the body as a whole.
Did you know that according to medical professionals, you have not one but two different skeletons, working together? Your skull, neck, back and pelvis form what’s called the axial skeleton, while your arms and legs form the appendicular skeleton. The spine of your axial skeleton is actually made up of five sections. From bottom to top, they are
- The coccyx, or tailbone
- The sacrum, connecting your back and your pelvis
- Five heavy lumbar vertebrae, supporting the weight of your body in your lower back
- 12 thoracic vertebrae, holding the ribs that protect your heart and lungs
- Seven cervical vertebrae in the neck, the most flexible part of your spine
How Complex is the Spine?
Very complex. For example, one quarter of its whole length isn’t bones at all, but the cartilage pads that cushion the vertebrae. The spine’s main function is twofold: it supports your body, allowing you to move and flex, but it also houses the main conduit of your nervous system, the spinal cord. Keeping all of this in order is no small feat. Besides your vertebrae, your back has
- 100 joints
- 23 intervertebral discs
- Over 120 muscles
- Over 220 different ligaments
When a happy, healthy back involves so many parts, it’s no wonder that back pain lands us in the doctor’s office so often. But at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, we’re here to explain everything you need to know about staying pain-free, and to lend a hand if things go wrong. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling (770) 421-1420 or clicking on our web contact form.