Doctor showing patient spine model

When you have back pain, understanding the differences between the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine will help you get the right treatment. The causes of back pain and other areas of the body stemming from spine injuries can be as complex as the spine itself.

Let’s discuss below.

The Anatomy of Your Spine

Your spine, or backbone, runs from your skull to your pelvis. This column typically has 33 bones that protect your spinal cord. Location is the biggest difference between the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. This is how the regions of your spine are defined:

Cervical spine: Beginning at your skull, the cervical vertebrae are the first seven. They are the smaller, lighter vertebrae of your neck.

Thoracic spine: The next 12 vertebrae run from your neck down your mid-back. Each forms a joint with your 12 pairs of ribs.

Lumbar spine: From your ribs to your sacrum, the lower five vertebrae comprise the lumbar spine. These are the largest vertebrae in your spine.

Sacral region: Continuing down the bottom of the spine are the five bones that create your sacral region. These are fused together.

Coccyx region: The spine ends at the tailbone, or coccyx bone, which is the smallest and most fragile bone in the spine. Three to five coccygeal vertebrae make this last region of your spine. This is a major attachment site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

Understanding Back Pain and Pain Management Options

When you have a spinal injury or degeneration, your pain may be concentrated to an area of the spine or it might radiate to other parts of the body like your arms and legs. This is because many large nerves begin in the spinal cord and extend into your body. Nerves can become pinched or irritated from overuse, wear, disease, or injury.

Pain management can include several spine pain treatments. Options range from lifestyle changes to spinal surgery. Knowing the best way to manage your pain can be difficult. You may not even be sure if the pain stems from your cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine.

Pain management doctors can help you understand the root of your pain and treatment options. At the Carolinas Center for Surgery, we start with a full evaluation of your pain and symptoms to create the best pain management plan for your situation. If you are struggling with back pain, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment today.