The Curvatures of the Spine

diagram of spinal column curvatureYour spine is made up of small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another in order to create the natural curves of your back. While a normal spinal column appears vertically straight if viewed from the rear, it should almost resemble a soft ‘S’ shape when viewed from the side. The natural curves of the spine that contribute to its shape are the cervical curve, thoracic curve, and lumbar curve.

The cervical curve is composed of seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of your skull and end at the upper chest. The thoracic spine is made up of twelve vertebrae that go from the upper chest to the middle back. The lumbar vertebra consists of five larger vertebrae.

The spine’s natural curves are important to our ability to balance and stand upright. If any of the curves become too large or small, posture may appear abnormal and it could be difficult to stand up straight. Spinal deformities (abnormal curvatures of the spine) include kyphosis of the thoracic spine (“hunchback”), lordosis of the lumbar spine (“swayback”), and scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine. In the presence of a spinal deformity, non-operative treatments such as physical therapy in Brandon, FL, or braces are recommended.