Spinal Anatomy

Backache nevertheless is a very common occurrence and afflicts most of us at some or the other point of time in our lives. Back pain can often be attributed to different structures of the spine, and there are often some specific causes that lead to backache. One could suffer from backache when the larger nerves that branch out to the arms and legs are irritated. Similarly, backache could be caused when the smaller nerves that interconnect the larger nerves to the spine are irritated.

Alternately, backache may be caused as a result of strain in the large paired back muscles, which are also known as erector spinae. Or backache could even be caused when the bones, joints, ligaments or tendons sustain an injury. The disc space too could be a cause of pain.

Anyone can be susceptible to back pain and related conditions, and to understand back pain, treatment options and relief in a better way, one must know more about the structure of the spine.

Our spine broadly comprises of four regions, and these include the cervical spine or the neck, the thoracic spine or the upper back, the lumbar spine, which is the lower back and the sacral region, which is the bottom of the spine.

The cervical spine has vertebral bones, and these progressively become smaller as they reach the base of the skull. The cervical spine facilitates movement of the neck. The top two spinal discs ensure rotational motion, while C5-C6 and C6-C7 discs enable the flexion movement.

When one suffers from any problem related with the cervical spine, it is not just the cervical spine or the neck which is affected, but the same can influence other parts of the body, as the nerves from the spine run down to all our body parts. As an example, when one suffers from a cervical herniated disc, the pain can radiate down the arms, and sometimes right up to one’s hands and fingers.

The lumbar spine or the lower back supports all the weight of our torso and that makes it a lot more prone to injuries. In human beings, there is a disproportionate degree of movement in the lower segments and discs of the lumbar spine (L3-L4 and L4-L5), and correspondingly these discs are more likely to suffer the effects of everyday wear and tear. Similarly, the two lowest discs, (L4-L5 and L5-S1) are most susceptible to herniation.

So it is the lower lumbar spine which is most likely to cause lower back pain, and through the nerves that run down to the rest of the body, this can cause sciatica, or numbness that radiates down the legs or feet.

Lower back pain, in many cases is caused due to muscle strain, which can cause trauma in muscles and soft tissues like tendons and ligaments, and can lead to lower back pain. But soft tissues have a sufficient supply of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients, and facilitates the healing process and pain relief.