Spine

The Spinal Column

About the Typical Vertebra

The typical human spinal column consists of 33 vertebrae, most of which are connected by joints. Your spine also has nine
vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx or tailbone that are fused together. The spine or the vertebral column is located in the back of the trunk or the torso. In between each pair of vertebrae in the spine, other than those that are fused, lies an intervertebral disc that separates the backbones and provides cushioning. These discs help absorbs the vibrations and shock that occur every time you move. The spinal cord is located within the protective spinal canal of the spine.

The spine normally consists of 33 vertebrae. This includes the 5 sacral vertebrae (the solid part of the vertebra that joins the hip bone to form the human pelvis) and the 4 bones of the coccyx (tailbone). The upper 24 vertebrae are separated into three regions, the cervical, the thoracic and the lumbar regions.

Spine imageTypical vertebra divided and explained

  • Cervical: The cervical region of the spine is made up of the first 7 vertebrae found closest to the skull in the neck area. They are named C1 through to C7, beginning closest to the skull and continuing downward in consecutive order towards the end of the spinal column.
  • Thoracic:
    There are 12 thoracic vertebrae found in the chest and rib area of the spine. They are named T1 through to T12. T1 lies
    next to C7, separated by an intervertebral disc.
  • Lumbar:
    There are 5 lumbar vertebrae in the lower back and pelvic region of the spine, L1 through L5. L1 immediately follows T12 with an intervertebral disc separating the two.

In some cases of a typical vertebra, an additional vertebra is found in an area of the spine, or a vertebra is missing in one region and the deficiency is made up in another area. This happens very rarely, however, in this case, the number of cervical vertebrae is then altered.

Your spine is not completely straight. The curves in your back help to provide balance and they work with the intervertebral discs to help absorb the shock and stress that occur with movement.

The curve in the upper part of the spine (the cervical curve) is forward. This is typically the smallest curve of the spine. The thoracic curve, or the one in the middle section of the spine, curves backward. This is the curve that is exaggerated in a condition known as kyphosis.

Men have less lumbar curve than women in the lower spine. This is a forward curve and is sometimes called lordosis. The sacral curve is forward and also downward.

An infant is born with curves in the sacral and thoracic spine and these are known as primary curves. The lumbar and cervical curves are not present in the spine at birth. They develop as a child grows and are known as secondary curves. The cervical curve is gradually formed as an infant learns to hold up his head and sit without support. The lumbar curve develops later when the child starts to walk.

Typical vertebra deformities such as Kyphosis

Kyphosis, as mentioned earlier in this article, is an exaggerated curve of the back. There are types of Kyphosis namely:

  • Osteoporosis Kyphosis
  • Congenital Kyphosis

 

1. Osteoporosis Kyphosis
This is mainly seen in adults but caused due to an injury of the spinal vertebra related to osteoporosis. The condition relates to the typical vertebra and is often seen in women than in men. Over time the vertebra will weaken with age and wear and tear causing fractures later in life. The vertebra will collapse as the front will lose height and collapse due to the bones weakening and being crushed while the rear vertebra will maintain their height. This results in the patient walking with a stooped posture.

 

2. Congenital Kyphosis
A malformation of the spine in infants during development within the womb results in Congenital Kyphosis to occur. This is thus most common in infants. The child will need surgery at a young age to prevent further deformity and to help bring the spine back to its alignment.

 

Degenerative Kyphosis
Degenerative Kyphosis develops over time due to wear and tear of the vertebra of the spine and then causes spinal arthritis and severe pain. In this form of Kyphosis, the vertebral discs will deteriorate causing friction of the bones.

 

Neuromuscular Kyphosis
Neuromuscular Kyphosis is common in children with neurological deformities such as:

 

    • Cerebral Palsy - affects movement, muscles and posture and many patients often cannot walk on their own. Cerebral palsy is often present at birth as the brain may not have developed completely.

 

    • Muscular Dystrophy - a weakening of the muscles and loss of muscle mass from a young age and is more common in boys than girls.

 

  • Spina Bifida - a birth defect where the spinal cord of the baby is not completely developed and it sometimes results in spinal fluid to push up against the skin of the back.

Other forms of Kyphosis include Scheuermann's Disease, Postural Kyphosis, Latrogenic Kyphosis, Traumatic Kyphosis and Nutritional Kyphosis.

 

Symptoms of typical vertebra abnormalities such as Kyphosis may include the following:
  • - Pain
  • - Stiffness
  • - Tingling
  • - Numbness
  • - Leg weakness
  • - Difficulty breathing
  • - Cardiac problems

 

Treatment for typical vertebra conditions such as Kyphosis include the following:
  • - Surgery
  • - Pain medication
  • - Physical therapy
  • - Exercise
  • - Weight control
  • - The use of a back brace
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Questions & Answers
Q:
What is the best way to treat permanent back and neck pain and stiffness?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Use a telephone headset

Never hold a phone between your shoulder and your ear. Use a headset or other hands-free system to talk on the phone and avoid abusing your neck and spine.

Neck Pain Tips: Exercise your neck muscles

One of the best neck pain tips is using the chin tuck. You can do this often throughout the day. In addition to helping strengthen the muscles that hold the head in alignment over the shoulders, it also helps strengthen the scalene and sub-occipital muscles.

Read more tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

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Temed Holdings
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Q:
What is the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder Pain?
A:

One of the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder pain is exercises:

Neck Pain Exercises: Neck Extension

  1. To begin this neck pain exercise, sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the palm of your hand on the back of your neck, at the base of your head
  4. Apply slight forward pressure with your hand, while resisting the forward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

Neck pain exercises: Side bend

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place your left hand, palm down, on the left side of your head (around your ear)
  4. Slightly push your head to the right side with your hand, while resisting the sideways motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat 5-10 times
  7. Repeat the neck pain exercises with the other side.

Neck pain exercises: Neck flexion

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the tips of your fingers on your forehead
  4. Slightly push your head backward with your fingers, while resisting the backward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

More exercises here: Neck Pain Exercises

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Temed Holdings
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Q:
How do I reduce the shoulder and neck pain?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Carry weight evenly

Many people make the mistake of carrying a heavy briefcase or their purse on their shoulder or on one side of their body. Doing this causes strain in the muscles and leads to pain.

Remove non-essentials from your briefcase or purse. Consider using a backpack to evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders. If you choose to carry a purse or backpack, keep your shoulders level while carrying it.

Neck Pain Tips: Maintain a proper posture

The most common posture contributing to neck pain is the “head-and-shoulders-forward” posture. In this position, the neck slopes forward, putting the head in front of the shoulders.

In this position, the head pulls the upper back forward also in a slumped position. This places a strain on the entire spinal column.

More tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

Read more
Temed Holdings
4 answers