The Three Curves of the Spine

The spine, also known as the backbone, runs from the base of the skull down to the pelvis. It has three sections that provide support to the body absorbing stress and pressure from body movement.

What is the primary function of the spine?

The primary function of the spine is to support the weight of the body and protect the intricate network of nerves intertwined in between.

The three curves of the spine

When viewed from the side, the spine has three natural curves that give it an 'S' shape. These curves help the spine endure great amounts of pressure from body movements. The spine distributes the weight of the body evenly.

The spine is arranged into three curves – Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar Spine. Each section is made up of a group of bones stacked on top of each other. In between these bones is a soft cushion called ‘disc’ to help absorb shock or weight of the body.

Cervical spine

Cervical Spine is the uppermost segment of the spine. The cervical spine is composed of seven (7) spinal bones (vertebrae) in the neck. It is referred to as C1 to C7 vertebrae from top to bottom.

The main function of the cervical spine is to support the head and allow movement to the neck. C1 and C2 vertebrae are responsible for the weight-bearing of the head, neck movement, and head rotation. C1 is also known as the ‘atlas’ holds the skull. On the other hand, C2, also known as ‘axis’, is composed of a bony projection known as the ‘odontoid process’ that fits into a hole in the atlas (C1) that permits neck rotation.

The cervical spine bends slightly inward, similar to a 'C'. This inward curve is also called a ‘Lordotic Curve’.

Thoracic spine

Thoracic Spine is the second segment of the spine. It is composed of twelve (12) spinal bones or vertebrae. It is referred to as T1 to T12 from top to bottom in the chest region. The rib cage is attached to the thoracic vertebrae. The Thoracic Spine bends slightly outwards, similar to a ‘reversed C’. It is also called a 'Kyphotic Curve'.

Lumbar spine

Lumbar Spine is the third segment of the spine located below the Thoracic Spine. It is composed of five (5) spinal bones or vertebrae. It is referred to as L1 to L5 from top to bottom in the hips or pelvis region. The lumbar spine bears the majority of the body’s weight. It is considered as the largest vertebrae of the body. The Lumbar Spine curves slightly inward forming a 'C'.

A healthy spine exhibits all of these three normal spinal curves. The three curves of the spine act as the shock absorbers of the body. They help align the different parts of the body to achieve optimal movement. Unfortunately, there are lifestyle activities, genetics and other factors that affect the integrity and alignment of the three spinal curves. The most common abnormal curvature of the spine is well known as ‘scoliosis.’ If you notice any unusual alignment in your spine, set a doctor’s appointment immediately. The earlier you can detect abnormalities in your spine, the bigger your chances of qualifying for non-invasive therapy.



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