13 surprising facts you didn’t know about your spine

There is no doubt that your spine plays a crucial role and it’s very important for your body. For instance, your spine is flexible, protects your spinal cord, supports your body weight, and more! Our spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale would like to share with you 13 fascinating facts about your spine. Here they are!

1. Your spine is more flexible than you think

Your spine is really flexible! If you separated it from the body, it could be bent to form ⅔ of a complete circle.  

2. Spine functions independently of the brain

Your brain is connected to the spinal cord. However, the spinal cord doesn’t take all commands from the brain and it had the ability to send direct signals to the muscles. A good example of this is a muscle spasm, where reflex signals that cause movement don’t come from the brain.

3. Smoking affects the spine and increases back pain

The study shows that smoking is associated with an increased risk of back pain. “The present study found that current smokers who smoked more cigarettes per day had a higher prevalence of back pain.”. In short, Nicotine decreases your blood flow and circulation , thus, it delays healing of an injury and decreases bone strength. This should be another reason to quit smoking!

4. Your spinal cord can store a memory for pain

An interesting fact about the spine is that when you experience severe pain, for example by slamming your hand with a door, then not only your brain will remember it, but your body will too. The neurons in your spinal cord carry pain signals to the nerves in your injured hand for a few days. Therefore, your hand will feel more sensitive, so even a light touch will stimulate an unpleasant and disagreeable reaction.

This happens because your spine carries a memory for pain. Furthermore, since your spine has a great memory, you should treat it correctly from an early age and take care of it. Control your posture, do exercise and stretch your back muscle to enjoy the long-term health of your spinal cord.

5. Humans and giraffes have the same amount of vertebrae in the neck

We know it is hard to believe, but both humans and giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae in our necks.

Screenshot 2019 02 15 at 15.41.40 - 13 surprising facts you didn't know about your spine

6. Did you know you are taller in the morning and… in space?

Astronauts who return from space are 3 percent taller than prior to the departure. They are taller due to lack of gravity and their cartilage discs expand in microgravity.

You are taller in the morning because your spine has 8 hours without the downward pull of gravity. The rest also let’s the cartilage in your vertebral discs plump up, which makes you taller!

7. We’re born with 33 vertebrae and we lose some as we age

When we’re born, our spine contains 33 vertebrae, but most of us end up with just 26. What happens to them? As you grow older, some of the vertebrae fuse together and form the sacrum (back of the pelvis) and coccyx (tailbone).

8. Did you know that the name coccyx (tailbone) is derived from “cuckoo”?

If you wonder, why the name coccyx is derived from a bird “cuckoo”, here’s the explanation. This is because the tailbone is shaped like a cuckoo’s beak.    

9. We are the only mammals who suffer from scoliosis.

There are no other mammals that suffer from scoliosis. Additionally, women are more likely to experience this disorder than men.  

10 .Weight of the spinal cord is around 35 grams

Your spine protects and ensures the safety of the spinal cord. As you know, the base of the brain is connected to the spinal cord. Together, they are known as the central nervous system (CNS). Can you believe that one of the most important parts of your body weighs only 35 grams?

11. Your spine has a great number of working parts

The average spine has over 120 muscles, around 220 ligaments, 100 joints, and you are born with 33 individual vertebrae.

Screenshot 2019 02 15 at 15.38.03 - 13 surprising facts you didn't know about your spine

12. Car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries.

The fact is that the most common cause of back pain, especially, spinal cord issues, are motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle accidents lead to 47% of all spinal cord injury cases.

13. 8 out of 10 Americans are affected by back pain at some point

Did you know that around 8 out of 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives? If you are suffering from back pain, it’s recommended for you to consult a spine specialist.

Learn more about Dr. Matthew Hepler – Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Fort Lauderdale,


Don’t let chronic back or neck pain take over your life. If you are suffering from constant discomfort in your neck or back, our orthopedic spine specialist is ready to help. Dr. Hepler is an adult and pediatric spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale, and Delray Beach.

He treats all conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, and also provides spinal stenosis treatments. Additionally, he offers non-operative treatment options, such as pain medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. But, he also offers operative treatments, including both minimally invasive techniques and complex reconstructions. If you would like to learn more about our orthopedic spine surgeon, please Contact Us.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.