- The adult spine consists of 31 segments.
- Most of these segments are grouped into four sections, or levels, depending on where they are located on the spine. The vertebrae closest to the head are considered to be at the cervical level. Problems with the neck can cause pain in the neck or discomfort that runs down the arms to the hands and fingers.
- The twelve vertebrae beneath the cervical level comprise the thoracic region are attached to the ribs and sternum (breast bone). Because all of these bones are connected, they provide more stability. Thus, there are fewer problems associated with motion at this level of the spine.
- Beneath the thoracic region is the lumbar level (or lower back). This area is associated with most of the motion of the back and also supports most of the weight of the body. The motion and flexibility of the lumbar region of the spine makes it more likely to experience injury, overuse and/or pain. Conditions with the lower back can also cause pain to radiate down the hips, legs and feet.
- At the base of the spine is the sacral region. Five vertebrae fused together form the sacrum, a triangular shaped bone at the base of the spine that also protects part of the pelvis. The four small bones below that form the coccyx, also known as the tailbone. The sacral region is prone to degeneration and resulting back problems and discomfort.
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