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The Unique Roles of the Vertebrae

An adult’s spine is comprised of 33 vertebrae, seven of which are cervical (neck) vertebrae, twelve thoracic (the mid back), and about five to six lumbar (lower back) vertebrae. The lumbar vertebrae also includes nine bone segments within the pelvic region that start off as individual vertebrae at birth but eventually fuse as a child ages to create the coccyx and sacrum.

Though all 33 vertebrae comprise the spine and share the responsibility of supporting the body and protecting the spinal cord, each group does have some unique characteristics and functions. The cervical vertebrae are smaller bones intended to support the weight of the head. These bones allow the head to make its broad range of movement. The thoracic vertebrae are larger than the cervical ones. Unlike those bones, these are much more rigid as they are part of the framework of the torso and rib cage. It’s the lumbar bones that are responsible for supporting the majority of the weight of the upper body while also allowing for twisting, bending and hip flexion.

Because lumbar and cervical vertebrae have to bear most of the weight and allow for the most flexibility, they are also prone to spinal conditions such as cervical disc herniation.

This update is brought to you by the Cantor Spine Institute, a minimally invasive spine surgery center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We utilize groundbreaking ultrasonic techniques to treat a number of cervical and lumbar spine conditions including cervical disc herniation, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, spondylolisthesis, and more. For more information on minimally invasive spine surgery vs open surgery or to schedule a complimentary MRI review, please call 954-567-1332.

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