When the back hurts- our supporting structure and its problems

Dr. med. Willy Hammerschmidt, Rothenbach, Germany

The human back is a complicated structure made up of bone, muscles, tendons, ligaments and intervertebral discs. The supporting element is the spine.
The adult spine has four segments and displays in the sagittal plane four typical curvatures which have developed in order to cushion stresses following man's adaptation to an upright gait on two legs. More precisely from cranial to caudal the following segments and curvatures may be differentiated:
1. Cervical spine - cervical lordosis
2. Thoracic spine- thoracic kyphosis
3. Lumbar spine- lumbar lordosis
4. Sacral spine (os sacrum) - sacral kyphosis
The cervical spine together with the thoracic and lumbar spine are also termed the presacral spine. From a medical viewpoint the transitional regions between the individual segments of the spine are clinically significant as they represent those points most prone to spinal conditions such as disc herniation. The vertebrae in thes...

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