Multiple Locations in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, & Fernandina Beach, FL
(904) 743-2222

Knowing Your Spine Anatomy

Knowing Your Spine Anatomy

Knowing your spine anatomy helps you understand how chiropractic works, especially when you hear your spine “crack,” while being adjusted.


The lay person’s term is backbone. We call it the spinal column.  The spine is a solid yet adaptable multipurpose structure. It carries the weight of the head and torso, and allows us to stand, stretch, twist, bend, turn, dance, and play. The spine—all 33 bones of it stacked on top of each other—is our body’s structural foundation.  That’s how the word “backbone” became a word to connote anything that means pillar or main support system.

Our spine or spinal column has five regions: cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, and coccyx.

Spine Anatomy 5 regions

Spinal curves

An adult spine has a natural S-shaped curve when viewed from the side. The cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) regions are slightly concave, while the thoracic and sacral regions are slightly convex. These curves allow your body to spring back, maintain balance, absorb shock, and move freely in many different directions in coordination.


The spinal column is composed of 33 bones stacked on top of each other.  These 33 bones are the vertebrae, which are numbered and divided according to the five regions mentioned and illustrated above. The top 24 bones are movable; the vertebrae of the sacrum and coccyx are connected. Each region of the vertebrae in each region have their own unique reason for being.

spine anatomy side view

Cervical (neck) region – This region is quite simply, the neck region, and is there to support your head, which is estimated to be about 10 pounds. There are seven (7) vertebrae in this region, and are numbered C1 to C7. C1 and C2 are the Yes and No vertebra.  C1, the ring-shaped atlas, directly connects to the skull allowing for the nodding or Yes movement.  C2, on the other hand, is the peg-shaped axis, which has a projection called the odontoid on which the atlas pivots around. This joint allows the No movement or the twisting movement of the head from left to right. Most neck problems are associated with poor posture, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, whiplash and other neck injuries, pinched nerve,  cervical spondylosis, and spinal stenosis.

Thoracic (mid back) region – The thoracic region or middle back holds the rib cage and protects the heart and lungs. Numbered T1 to T12, the 12 thoracic vertebrae allow for limited movement in this part of the body. The mid back region is very stable, but many of the mid back and upper back problems are caused by poor posture, muscle overuse, osteoarthritis, herniated disc, pinched nerve, and traumatic injuries from vehicular accidents or slip and falls.

Lumbar (low back) region– The lumbar region or lower back bears the weight of the entire body. It is there to help us lift and carry heavy objects. Numbered L1 to L5, the five lumbar vertebrae are much larger in size because they absorb the stress of lifting and carrying. This is the area associated with most back problems because it pretty much bears the brunt of all your body’s weight, movement, and their excesses, not to mention traumatic injuries caused by accidents.

Sacrum region – The sacrum connects the spine to the hip or iliac bones. There are five sacral vertebrae, which are fused together. Together with the iliac bones, they form a ring called the pelvic girdle. The sacrum is the support at the base of your spine and is the region that allows one to walk, jog, run, climb, dance, etc.  It is so strong that it takes a severe fall to fracture it.

Coccyx region – Also known to us as the tailbone, the coccyx looks like a shortened tail at the bottom of the spine, and serves as an attachment site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It has been claimed that the coccyx serves no real purpose to human beings, but some say that it supports and stabilizes a person while in a sitting position.

Spinal Abnormalities

Due to sedentary living, unhealthy lifestyles, and accidents, spines will develop abnormalities or injuries.  Below are examples of the main types of spinal abnormalities that will help you understand where your spinal situation is at, and why your chiropractor is using a particular treatment to your body.

      • “Sway back” or lordosis is an abnormal curve of the lumbar spine.
      • “Hunchback” or kyphosis is an abnormal curve of the thoracic spine.
      • Scoliosis is an abnormal curve from side-to-side.

spine anatomy abnormalities


The abdominal and back muscles aid in movement and keeping our spine aligned and the natural curves maintained.  It is therefore imperative to keep our muscles well-exercised so that it may continually support our spine. For example, excess body weight can misalign a spine.  Poor posture and lack of exercise weaken muscles, resulting in potential injury to the spine when there is not enough muscle strength to move the body in a particular direction or to help the body carry heavy objects.

Two muscle groups affect the spine: extensors and flexors. Extensors— located at the back of the spine—help us stand up and lift objects. Flexors— located in front and include the abdominal muscles help us flex, stretch, bend, and are vital in supporting the arch in the lower back.

The back muscles maintain the spine’s stability. As I wrote previously, weak muscles, being overweight, or even quite simply, having a big belly, can pull the spine out of its alignment, affecting the balance of the entire body.  (see my article Exercises That Strengthen Back Muscles to Help with Back Pain).

Strong bones, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves also help keep the spine healthy.

“Anatomy of the Spine,” Mayfield Brain and Spine; last accessed 4/24/2019
“Neck Pain (Cervical Pain)” Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR / Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, MedicineNet; last accessed 4/24/2019 
“What are the most likely causes of upper back pain?” by Jon Johnson,  Medical News Today; last accessed 4/24/2019
Spine Health, last accessed 4/24/2019
Spine Universe, last accessed 4/24/2019

Dr. Allamm Morales, M.D.

Dr. Allamm Morales has over 15 years experience in personal injury and a wide range of neurological disorders. He has privilege, and provides patient care in local Baptist hospitals.

He was Chief Resident at the Neurology Residency Program of the University of South Florida, and worked at the Florida Hospital of New Smyrna, and St. Luke Hospital in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He also served many years with the Florida Neurology Institute, Inc.

Dr. Morales is a Diplomate of the American Board of Vascular Neurology, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Dr. Morales studied in Nova Southeastern University, Davie, FL, had residency at the Caibarien General Hospital, Cuba, and obtained the MD degree at the Superior Institute of Medical Science in Cuba.

Fiaz Jaleel, M.D.
Physical Medicine & Rehab, Pain Management

“Life is short and precious. As a Physiatrist and Pain Physician my goal for my patients is to reduce their pain and suffering, enhance form, improve function and ultimately promote the best quality of life for that individual.”

Dr. Fiaz Jaleel graduated from the University of The West Indies in 1987. He completed a two year internship at Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago. He completed his internship in Internal Medicine at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, IL and went on to do a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis , MO. In 2007, Dr. Jaleel joined the team at Absolute Injury and Pain Physicians as Medical Director. He is currently Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as Pain Medicine via the American Board of Pain Medicine.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Jaleel held positions as an Intern, House officer, and District Medical Officer. He has also practiced in Illinois, Missouri, South Dakota and Central and North Florida.

While practicing in Trinidad , Dr. Jaleel also worked in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Neonatology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, Ophthalmology, Radiology, Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedics, Emergency Medicine and Community Medicine.

Dr. Jaleel has encountered many diseases, disorders and clinical situations related to multiple aspects of trauma including penetrating and non-penetrating injuries, motor vehicular accidents and concomitant injuries including intra-abdominal injuries, closed head injuries, fractures and burns.

When not treating his patients, Dr. Jaleel enjoys travelling, reading and spending time with friends and family.

Dr. Jaleel has the following affiliations:
Diplomate, American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Diplomate, American Board of Pain Medicine
Fellow, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Member, American Academy of Pain Medicine
Member, Florida Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Member, Florida Academy of Pain Medicine
Member, Florida Medical Association

Deric L. D’Agostino, D.C.
Chiropractic Physician

“The health of a body is in direct proportion to the health of its nervous system. The nervous system controls every cell, tissue and organ in your body, tap into that and “miracles” will most certainly happen!”

Dr. Deric D’Agostino attended the Logan College of Chiropractic and has been helping patients at Absolute Injury and Pain Physicians for the past nine years. Around here we call him “Dr. D.”

Dr. D’Agostino specializes in Koren Specific Technique and in the treatment of injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. He is a master of his craft and firmly believes that chiropractic treatment can not only help the body but also the mind. His sense of humor and the personal attention that he provides really puts patients at ease.

Dr. D’Agostino genuinely listens to the patient while working very hard to erase their pain-inducing symptoms. He is always seeking out continuing education and new methodology to add to his care repertoire.

When he is not helping patients find relief, Dr. D’Agostino enjoys training for sprint triathlons, gardening, as well as being an awesome father and husband. You will most likely find him at our Arlington location dawning a huge smile while drinking his homemade juice.