Back and Spine Resources for Patients 


Understanding Your Back Condition

Knowing some basic information about your spine can be very helpful as you talk with your doctor.

The 24 bones of your spine, called vertebrae, are stacked on top of each other. They are the building blocks of your spinal column. The vertebrae are arranged to create a hollow passage that protects and supports the spinal cord and its many nerves. 

Gel-like cushions, called discs, separate the vertebrae. These soft discs of cartilage act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. The discs keep the bones from rubbing against each other and allow you to stand upright or bend and twist. They also protect the delicate spinal cord from injury.


Segments of the Spine


Cervical Spine

  • The neck, or cervical spine, starts at the bottom of the skull, and ends just above the shoulders
  • These seven vertebrae support the weight of the head
  • Provides more movement than the other segments of the spine

Thoracic Spine

  • The mid-back, or thoracic spine, protects the internal organs of the chest.
  • These 12 vertebrae have a normal kyphosis (or “C” curve)
  • Allow for less movement than the rest of the spine

Lumbar Spine

  • The lower back, or lumbar spine, has five of the largest vertebrae
  • Carry most of the body’s weight
  • Responsible for a majority of bending and twisting


  • The sacrum is triangular in appearance and is made up of five naturally fused vertebrae
  • Forms the base of the spine and center of the pelvis


  • Small bone at the end of the sacrum
  • Sometimes called the tailbone
  • Connects the spine to the pelvis and the lower half of the skeleton


Learn more about Spinal Anatomy


Back and Spine Conditions Treated at Palomar Health

There are many physical conditions that may be causing your pain symptoms. You and your care team will work together to determine which is causing your discomfort. Here is a list of conditions we treat at San Diego County's premiere Orthopedic and Spine Center:

  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Herniated Disc
  • Chronic Pain
  • Facet Joint Pain
  • Failed Back Syndrome
  • Myelopathy
  • Nerve Compression
  • Vertebral Compression Fracture
  • Radicular Syndrome
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Deformity
  • Spinal Fracture
  • Spinal Instability
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylosis
  • Whiplash