The Anatomy of the Spine


The back is made up of 33 interlinked bones (vertebra) that stack to make a support that is movable and protects the Spinal cord.Your spine is divided into five areas:


Cervical spine:  This region runs from the stem of your brain down your neck and has 7 vertebrae.

Thoracic spine: This is the region of your upper and middle-back and had 12 vertebrae.

Lumbar spine:  Starts from below the ribs down to your abdomen and has five vertebrae.

Sacral spine:  Is found in the lower back, and extends to your tailbone and has five fused vertebrae.

Coccygeal spine: The very bottom section of your spine and has four fused vertebrae.


Each vertebra in your spine is a bone made up of a main body known as the vertebral body, pedicles of bone coming from both sides and the back of the body which in turn forms joints with their neighbouring vertebra .


Between each vertebral body lies a disc which acts as a cushion between the bones. Surrounding each vertebra are many ligaments, nerves, muscles and blood vessels.

Getting to the source of your back pain

The following spinal structures can cause problems:

  • Discs.

  • Nerves.

  • Ligaments.

  • Bones.

  • Muscles.

When the structures in your back become problematic or painful, often you will find that you hold yourself and move in an altered fashion. While you may start with good posture, this inevitably leads to poor postural habits which over time may result in further back or neck dysfunction. So, the alignment of your spine is crucial to your overall posture and movement patterns.

Back pain does not simply produce pain in the back, often it may cause symptoms in more remote areas such as the buttocks, groin, hips, and legs (commonly called sciatica).

Problems in the spine and neck can also cause symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, clicking jaw, pins and needles and many more. Indeed research has shown that problems related to the back may affect over 60% of the UK’s population at some stage in their lives.

Osteopaths are trained professionals who are skilled in diagnosing problems, including those which may require further investigation if necessary. Around 30,000 people currently consult an osteopath every day with more than seven million consultations carried out every year.