Normal Spinal Anatomy
Fig 1: Sections of the spine
Before discussing the confusing aspects of terminology used to describe back problems, it is important to first review the overall terminology used to describe the normal anatomy of the spine.
Vertebrae Define Sections of the Spine
- See Thoracic Spine Anatomy and Upper Back Pain
Lumbar Spine Anatomy Video
(lower back)- typically including 5 vertebrae (known as L1 to L5), which have a great deal of motion and flexibility. Because this section of the spine bears most of the body’s weight and allows for the most motion (which stresses the anatomical structures), this is the area associated with most back problems. Problems in the low back can cause pain that radiates down the legs to the feet.
- See Lumbar Spine Anatomy and Pain
People with back problems that get better within a few weeks usually have a strained muscle (a pulled muscle) or other soft tissue damage. However, many back problems that don't get better within a few months are caused by some type of problem with a spinal disc or nerve.