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An Overview of Spinal Anatomy

Last updated 4 years ago

Although your spine performs important tasks for your body, you might not give your spinal anatomy a second thought until you begin to experience back pain or other problems. When you meet with an orthopedic expert to discuss your spinal symptoms, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the parts of your spine. You may hear the spine care expert refer to your cervical region, thoracic region, and lumbar region. These refer to your neck area, middle back area, and lower back area, respectively. Additionally, your spine is made up of the following components.


The vertebrae are the bones of your spine. The vertebrae in your cervical region are relatively small, while those in your lumbar region are much larger. This is because the lower back must bear more of the burden of the weight of your body.

Intervertebral Discs

Intervertebral discs are round, flat “cushions” located between your vertebrae. The discs lend flexibility and strength to the spine. If the exterior of the disc develops a tear and the inner material pushes through that tear, patients can experience pain and other symptoms. This condition is referred to as disc herniation.

Facet Joints

Facet joints are located on the back of the vertebrae. They feature a surface made of cartilage. Facet joints enable the rotational movement of the spine. Sometimes, neck pain or low back pain can be attributed to arthritis of the facet joints.

Spinal Cord

The spinal canal is a space that runs through the middle of each vertebra. The spinal cord is located within the spinal canal. Nerves branch out from the spinal cord. A common condition that involves this part of the spine is called spinal stenosis. This occurs when the spinal canal is narrower than usual, compressing the spinal cord and the nerves.

Have you been experiencing severe back pain or other spinal problems? Consider scheduling a consultation with the spine care experts at Oak Hill Hospital to discuss your spinal care treatment options. Residents of Spring Hill and Brooksville can learn more about our orthopedic services by calling our Consult-A-Nurse referral line at (888) 741-5120.


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