is a three-dimensional curvature of the spine. Understanding
the fundamental anatomy and function of the spine, therefore,
is key to a clearer picture of this treatable condition.
spine has several special roles in the human body. It
protects the spinal cord (which connects nerves to the
brain); provides the support needed to walk upright;
enables the torso to bend; and supports the head. Viewed
from the side, the spine has a natural "S"
curve, which should not to be confused with the abnormal
curvature of scoliosis.
are five main sections of the spine, as shown in the
illustration. From top to bottom they are the cervical,
the thoracic, the lumbar, the sacrum, and the coccyx.
Sections of the Spine
The uppermost part of the spine, the cervical
section, is more commonly referred to as the neck. There
are seven cervical vertebrae (doughnut-shaped bones)
that connect the skull to the rest of the spine. Spongy
discs are located between the vertebrae.
The spine's thoracic section begins at the shoulders
and extends down to the end of the rib cage. There are
12 vertebrae in the upper back, with shock-absorbing
discs between them. Scoliosis commonly affects the thoracic
section of the spine.
The lumbar section, or lower back, has five vertebrae.
These vertebrae, separated by discs, are the largest
discs in the spine. The lumbar section is also a common
location for scoliosis to occur.
There are five vertebrae that join together to form
the sacrum, a wedge-shaped part of the spine that rests
at the top of the pelvis.
The coccyx is often referred to as the tailbone. It
consists of four vertebrae.
From top to bottom, the spine has 33 doughnut -shaped
bones called vertebrae. Each vertebra is assigned a
letter and a number that identifies its location in
the spine. For example, the fourth vertebra in the cervical
section is the C-4 vertebra, the second vertebra in
the lumbar section is the L-2 vertebra, the 11th vertebra
in the thoracic section is the T-11 vertebra, and so
Sandwiched between each pair of vertebrae is a spongy
cartilage, or disc. Intervertebral discs, as they are
known, act as shock-absorbing cushions.