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Posted on 12-07-2015
The spine, like so much of the human body, is a highly complex system which has an impact on every other part of the body.
Here's a brief overview of spinal anatomy.
Two main components of the spine are the spinal column, composed of 24 vertebrae, the sacrum and the coccyx, and the spinal cord.
The spinal column consists of seven cervical vertebrae (neck), twelve thoracic vertebrae (each of which connects with two ribs) and the five or six lumbar vertebrae. While most people have five lumbar vertebrae, sometimes one of the vertebrae that normally fuses to become the sacrum doesn't fuse, leaving a sixth lumbar vertebrae.
The vertebrae are named for their position. The 1st cervical vertebrae is called C1, the first thoracic is T1 and the first lumbar is L1. The first two cervical vertebrae have nicknames. C1 is referred to as Atlas, as it holds up the head, and C2 is referred to as Axis.
The spinal cord travels down the inside of the column formed by the vertebrae. Between each pair of vertebrae, spinal nerves exit the spine to provide sensory and motor nerves to the body. The spinal cord itself actually stops somewhere around L1 or L2 and becomes known as the cauda equina (horse's tail). The cauda equina, instead of being one cord, becomes numerous separate nerves, which exit the lumbar spine to supply the lower part of the body.
Injury to the spinal cord will cause symptoms which are normally lower than the level of the spinal injury. So, injuries to the cauda equina have the potential to impact ambulation (walking) and bowel/bladder function, whereas a person who sustains a cervical spine injuries can loose function to the arms, legs and trunk, and may not be able to breath on their own. Here's a link to a very interesting interactive model of the spine, which might help you visualize the spine better.
For more information about your spine and to find out how we here at Lexington Family Chiropractic can help you reclaim your health, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
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