Anatomy of the Human Spine

Shawn Hanson, Tarpon Springs pic
Shawn Hanson, Tarpon Springs pic
Shawn Hanson, Tarpon Springs

Shawn Hanson has served as a chiropractor in Tarpon Springs, Florida, since 2007. In that time, Shawn Hanson has treated numerous Tarpon Springs patients with pain in various areas of the back and spine.

The human spine consists of 33 bones. Of these, 24 function as independent bones that can move in relation to one another. This motion allows for flexion and rotation of the back.

The top seven vertebrae make up the cervical spine. The top two bones, known as the atlas and axis, provide lateral and horizontal movement of the skull. The remaining five cervical vertebrae create motion in the neck.

Below the cervical spine, 12 vertebrae make up the thoracic spine of the upper back. These slightly larger bones attach to the sternum and ribs and thus are relatively stable. The vertebrae of the thoracic spine are also quite strong and support a significant amount of body weight.

Below the thoracic spine, the five bones of the lumbar spine bear the majority of body weight while facilitating motion of the lower back. These bones are extremely strong and flexible. Nevertheless, the demands placed on this area of the back make the lumbar spine particularly susceptible to damage and pain.

The lumbar spine gives way to the sacral region, where five fused bones create a triangular structure that is also highly vulnerable to degeneration. The four fused bones of the coccyx, or tailbone, form the end of the spinal column.