Understanding the Anatomy of the Spine

The spinal column is the body's main support
structure. Its thirty-three bones, called vertebrae,
are divided into five regions: cervical, thoracic,
lumbar, sacral and coccygeal.

Cervical Region
The cervical region consists of seven vertebrae
labeled C1 to C7. The first cervical vertebra is
called the atlas. The second is called the axis.
Together, the atlas and axis form the joint that
connects the spine to the skull and allows the head
to swivel and nod.

Thoracic Region
The thoracic region, located in the mid-back,
consists of twelve vertebrae labeled T1 to T12.
These vertebrae serve as attachment points for the

Lumbar Region
The lumbar region, commonly called the lower
back, consists of five vertebrae labeled L1 to L5.
This is the main weight-bearing section of the spinal

Sacral region
The sacral region consists of five fused vertebrae
labeled S1 to S5. These vertebrae form a solid
mass of bone, called the sacrum, which provides
the attachment point for the pelvis.

Coccygeal Region
The coccygeal region, commonly called the
tailbone, consists of four small vertebrae. These
tiny bones may be fused or separate. Together they
form the coccyx, an attachment point for various
muscles, tendons and ligaments. The coccyx also
helps support the body when a person is sitting.

All together, the vertebrae of the spine's five
regions support the weight of the body and protect
the spinal cord and nerve roots. Each individual
vertebra has a complex set of structures necessary
to the overall function of the spine.

Vertebral Body
The main structure of a vertebra is the vertebral
body -- a cylinder-shaped section of bone at the
front of the vertebra. It is the main weight-bearing
section of the vertebra.

Vertebral Canal
Behind the vertebral body is the vertebral canal.
The spinal cord travels through this channel.

Spinal Cord
The spinal cord is the main bundle of nerve fibers
connecting the brain to the rest of the body. The
spinal cord ends near the L1 and L2 vertebrae,
where it divides into bundles of nerve roots called
the cauda equina.

Nerve Roots
Exiting the sides of the spine are nerve roots, thick
nerve branches that transmit signals between the
spinal cord and the other parts of the body.

On either side of the vertebral canal are pedicle
bones, which connect the vertebral body to the

The lamina create the outer wall of the vertebral
canal, covering and protecting the spinal cord.

Spinous Process
Protruding from the back of the lamina is the
spinous process. It provides an attachment point for
muscles and ligaments that move and stabilize the

Transverse Processes
Transverse processes protrude from the sides of
each vertebra. Muscles and ligaments that move
and stabilize the vertebrae attach to the transverse

Watch the video description about the Anatomy of the Spine below:

cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum
spinous process, spinal cord, nerve root
lamina, pedicle

Articular Facet
The articular facets form the joints where each
vertebra connects with the vertebrae above and
below it. Each vertebra has four facets (two
superior facets and two inferior facets). The facet
joints have a covering of cartilage, which allows

Intervertebral Disc
Between the vertebral bodies are the tough, elastic
spinal discs. They provide a flexible cushion,
allowing the vertebrae to bend and twist. Each disc
has a tough outer wall called the annulus fibrosus
and a soft interior called the nucleus pulposus.

Education is the Key!

Throughout my career, I have seen many patients with back pain, neck pain, pinched nerve, sciatica, arthritis of the back, etc that are left is the dark about the root cause of their problem.


Many have been reading through their Xray or MRI reports full of medial jargons without help, often leading to frustration, fear and confusion. 


At NorTex, we emphasize on patient education first and we want to be able to explain the source of the problem in layman's terms. 

The first step in reviewing any spine related problems is to understand the anatomy of spine and it's structures. 

We have put together a brief description of the spine as well as a video to help understand this rather complex and marvelous structure of the body. 


Omid Ghalambor, MD

Watch Dr. Ghalambor and Bob discuss Anatomy

Dr. Ghalambor discussing Anatomy Of the Spine

Dr. Ghalambor's Overview Of the Lumbar Spine

Dr. Ghalambor's Overview Of the Cervical Spine

Dr. Ghalambor's Overview Of the Thoracic Spine

NorTex Spine & Joint Institute

Is proud to be the leader of non-surgical treatments for variety of spine related problems offered by Dr. Ghalambor, Harvard Trained, Fellowship Trained and Board Certified Specialist. 

We offer consultations and treatments in our affiliated clinics in Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Lewisville, Wylie, Celina, Garland, Allen, Addison and Dallas in Texas. 

Want to talk more about your Back Pain, Neck Pain or other Spine related problems?

Call us today at 972-872-8408