About the Spine

The spine is a key component in health and wellness. This precise system of nerves, bone and soft tissue coordinates every movement, impulse and message throughout the body. That’s why when spine health is compromised, the whole body begins to suffer, making it vitally important to seek care from a trusted and experienced healthcare partner.

When it comes to successfully treating spine-related disorders, proper evaluation and accurate diagnosis are key to developing a highly effective, personalized treatment plan. By taking a multidisciplinary team approach to the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of spine-related issues, the spine care experts at Hoag deliver exceptional patient care you can trust.

Below is a brief overview on the structure of the spine. For more information, please visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. For more about Hoag Spine Institute, or to schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, or a second-opinion consultation with a Hoag spine care specialist, please call 949-764-6066.

The Anatomy of the Spine

The spine is made up of vertebrae, 24 separate bones and the fusing of the sacrum and coccyx bones. The vertebrae form a tunnel of protection around the spinal cord and nerves.
Between them are the cushioning discs – made up of a fibrous ring (annulus) and a gelatinous center (nucleus) – that support weight and also protect the spinal cord and nerves. From each disc, extend nerves that carry impulses from the brain to the arms, legs and rest of the body providing us movement and sensation. While discs provide greater flexibility for the spine it is the discs that typically show the most strain and fatigue over time.

Muscles and ligaments support the spine and keep the spine’s three curves in normal alignment. However, bad posture, an inactive lifestyle or incorrect movement can strain the spine and discs, causing pain and injury. Disorders such as scoliosis, arthritis and osteoporosis affect the spine as well.

The Hoag Spine Institute focuses on the care and treatment of each of the spine’s three regions:

Cervical region (neck)

The top seven vertebrae – labeled C1 to C7 – connect the skull to the spine and allow the skull to nod and swivel.

Thoracic region (shoulders to waist)

The thoracic vertebrae – also known as T1 to T12 – is the most stable, yet the part of the spine most limited in motion because it is connected to the ribs.

Lumbar region (lower back)

Lumbar vertebrae – labeled L1 to L5 – serve as the most weight-bearing section of the spine.