About the Spine
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The normal healthy spine consists of 33 vertebral bones (7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral and 4 coccygeal). The spine also consists of intervertebral discs, the spinal cord, nerve roots, ligaments, blood vessels and an intricate plexus and layers of muscle. The normal anatomy is illustrated in the below figures which demonstrate the complexity of the spinal anatomy.
Anatomy of Your Spinal Column
There are 5 aspects to the human spine. The cervical spine which is where the head attaches to the spine, otherwise known as the neck, the thoracic spine which is where the ribs are attached to the spine, the lumbar spine where the spine is attached to the pelvis, and the sacral and coccygeal spine where the pelvis attaches to the lower extremities.
What is Spine pathology?
Spine pathology is a disease or problem that causes disruptions in the structures of the spine or arises from the spine. Any element of this anatomy can be affected with a spine problem to cause pathology.
Disruptions in the normal anatomy can occur in any of the bones, muscles, discs, joints, nerves, blood vessels and ligaments of the spine.
These disruptions can be:
• congenital (developmental and/or genetic),
• injury due to trauma i.e. car accident
• degenerative (repetitive strain)
• caused by a disease process in the body causing a spine pathology as a secondary problem i.e. cancer, ankylosing spondylitis
Each section of the spine can be affected by a variety of issues and each condition requires knowledge of the specific effect of the injury as well as the impact on the body as a whole. The figures below illustrate some of the potential spine pathologies that can occur.