Last month we discussed the cervical spine, or the neck area. You will recall there are 7 cervical vertebrae. The next section of the spine is called the thoracic spine, and it consists of 12 vertebrae. This is the section located along the main trunk of the body known as the thorax. It connects the cervical vertebrae to the lumbar vertebrae. The thoracic vertebrae have a different shape than the cervical vertebrae. It provides support for the body as well as provides attachment points for your ribs. It has 12 nerve roots. These nerve roots branch from the spinal cord and control the movement and sensory signals for the upper back, chest, and abdomen.
The thoracic spine is the longest region of the spine. The first thoracic vertebra is next in line just after the 7th cervical vertebra. While the thoracic spine offers less in the way of flexibility, it offers much in the way of stability. It also provides attachment points for many muscles and tendons. It forms the thoracic cage, which with the ribs and sternum helps to protect our abdominal and chest organs. Again, just as the cervical vertebrae must be in proper alignment for optimal spinal health and mobility, so must the thoracic vertebrae. Each vertebra works in tandem with the other vertebrae of the spine to make a marvelous, wonderful framework of support and mobility for our bodies! Next month, The Spine: Part 3!