Your back is a key support for your body. It helps you keep your balance while walking on two feet and helps keep your head in an upright position. There are several components of your spine that work together, allowing your body to maintain healthy structure and function.
Vertebrae (bones): Vertebrae provide the solid structure of your spine. In total, the spine consists of seven cervical vertebrae (your neck), 12 thoracic vertebrae (the middle of your back) and five lumbar vertebrae (your lower back). At the bottom of the spine there is a solid structure known as the sacrum, which helps to anchor your spine. Your skull is located at the top of the spine.
Discs: Discs are located between the vertebrae and serve as shock absorbers, relieving the pressure on the bones as the spine functions.
Spinal Cord: Your spinal cord is where your nerves are housed. It starts in your skull, and the nerves travel all the way down your spinal canal, each nerve exiting at different levels in your body. This helps you to perceive sensation and allows you to move.
Muscles: Muscles help to keep your spine upright. There are several main muscles that are on either side of your spine. With certain injuries or conditions, the muscles can be stretched, strained or injured. Weak muscles can also cause back pain and create difficulty supporting affected parts of the back.
When any one of these components is not functioning correctly (whether due to an accident, injury or genetics), there can be a variety of symptoms that can develop, including pain, tingling and numbness. On our site, we have included some common spinal disorders and deformities, as well as their respective treatment options. These are meant to serve as an authoritative introduction and to answer some initial questions you might have, but are in no way a substitute for discussing these matters with Dr. Hey in person during your appointment.