Slide show: Causes of back pain
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Slide show: Causes of back pain

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How your back is built

Your spine is made up of 30 bones stacked in a column. Each of these bones is called a vertebra. From the side, your vertebral column has a natural curve toward the back of your body as it passes through your upper chest, balanced by a similar curve toward the front through the lower vertebrae. Joints between the vertebrae in your neck enable you to tilt, rotate and flex your neck. Joints between the larger vertebrae in your lower back (lumbar spine) enable you to bend, turn and twist at your waist.

March 24, 2021

  1. Goldman L, et al. Mechanical and other lesions of the spine, nerve roots and spinal cord. In: Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  2. Rakel RE. Back: Cervical and thoracolumbar spine. In: Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  3. Handout on health: Back pain. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Back_Pain/default.asp. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  4. Osteoporosis overview. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/overview.asp. Accessed March 20, 2015.
  5. Rosen HN, et al. Osteoporotic thoracolumbar vertebral compression fractures: Clinical manifestations and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 20, 2015.

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