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Spine (Back and Neck) Injuries and Conditions

There are many types of spine injuries and conditions. Symptoms such as neck pain, back pain, stiffness or posture problems should be assessed by an expert spine physician to determine appropriate treatment. In most cases, to help make a diganosis, imaging tests (such as X-rays, low-dose radiation EOS images or MRIs) should also be conducted and reviewed by a radiologist with musculoskeletal expertise.

HSS takes a multidisciplinary approach to spine care. Depending on your type of condition, you may benefit from nonsurgical treatment by a physiatrist, rheumatologist, pain management doctor or physical therapist. Complex spine injuries and certain degenerative conditions may require an operation by an orthopedic or neurologic spine surgeon.

Explore the content below to learn more.

Spine anatomy

The bones that compose the spine (or backbone) are divided into four basic segments. From top to bottom, these are:

  • The cervical spine (the neck) – the first seven vertabrae located just below the skull
  • The thoracic spine – the 12 vertabrae of the upper back
  • The lumbar spine – the five vertabrae of the lower back
  • The sacral spine – composed of a triangular structure called the sacrum (five individual vertabrae that fuse together between the age of 18 and 30) and the coccyx (commonly called the tailbone and composed of three to five individual vertabrae, some of which may fuse together in adulthood)

Image: Graphic of spine anatomy with segments and structures labeled.


Spine animations libary

Watch videos that illustrate and explain various spinal conditions and injuries, including surgical treatments. (Each surgical animation provides only a general overview of a particular orthopedic procedure. HSS surgeons tailor each operation to the individual patient.)

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