The spine is made up of 26 bones divided into 5 sections. These bones surround and protect the spinal cord. This includes 24 vertebrae (divided into cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions), the sacrum and the coccyx.
Cervical region: These are 7 vertebrae at the top of the spine that run from the base of the skull to the lowest part of the neck.
Thoracic region: These are 12 vertebrae that run from the shoulders to the middle of the back.
Lumbar region: These are 5 vertebrae that run from the middle of the back to the hips. Sacrum – This is a large section of fused vertebrae at the base of the spine.
Coccyx (tail bone): This is a small, thin section of fused vertebrae at the end of the spine.
The spinal cord is a thick column of nerves surrounded by vertebrae that runs from the brain stem to the lumbar region of the spine. Like the brain, the spinal cord has both grey and white matter. The spinal cord sends information between the brain and most of the body through the spinal nerves.
Pairs of spinal nerves exit the vertebrae along the length of the spinal cord. At the lumbar region, the spinal cord branches into a group of spinal nerves that exit the lumbar vertebrae and sacrum. The spinal nerves control body functions like movement, bladder and bowel control and breathing. The spinal nerves are numbered after nearby vertebrae.