The key difference between cervical thoracic and lumbar vertebrae is their location. Cervical vertebrae are in the neck region while thoracic vertebrae are in the thorax (chest region) and lumbar vertebrae are in the lower back region. There are 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae.
The vertebral column is a part of the human skeleton, which comprises 26 vertebrae. It is a bony segmented structure that runs on the back of the body. Total vertebrae of the vertebral column are grouped into five major groups based on the location of them. They are cervical vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae, sacral vertebrae and coccyx vertebrae.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Cervical Vertebrae
3. What are Thoracic Vertebrae
4. What are Lumbar Vertebrae
5. Similarities Between Cervical Thoracic and Lumbar Vertebrae
6. Side by Side Comparison – Cervical vs Thoracic vs Lumbar Vertebrae in Tabular Form
What are Cervical Vertebrae?
Cervical vertebrae are the vertebrae in the neck region, located immediately below the skull. The individual bones of the cervical vertebrae abbreviate as C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and C7. The top-most cervical vertebra is the atlas vertebra, which holds the head upright. The second topmost cervical vertebra is the axis vertebra which facilitates most of the head movements and provides an axis for side to side head rotation.
Moreover, cervical vertebrae are the smallest vertebrae in the vertebral column. Each transverse process of cervical vertebrae has a foramen (hole), unlike thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.
What are Thoracic Vertebrae?
Thoracic vertebrae are the twelve individual bones along the midline of the body in the thorax region. All ribs are attached to thoracic vertebrae. Thoracic vertebrae form the vertebral spine in the upper trunk. They also protect the spinal nerves in that region.
Thoracic vertebrae are named from T1 – T12. Furthermore, they are larger and thicker than cervical vertebrae and smaller and thinner than lumbar vertebrae.
What are Lumbar Vertebrae?
Lumbar vertebrae are the five cylindrical bones along the midline of the lower back. Lumbar vertebrae are abbreviated as L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. They form and support the spine at the lower back.
These vertebrae hold the upper body weight and facilitate the movements of the trunk region. They also protect the spine nerves, which run in the lower back region. Furthermore, the superior L1, together with inferior L5, create the concave lumbar curvature at the lower back.
What are the Similarities Between Cervical Thoracic and Lumbar Vertebrae?
- Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar vertebrae are parts of the vertebral column.
- All three groups consist of individual bones.
- All three groups are located along the midline of the body.
- These vertebrae support the spinal nerves and protect the spinal cord.
What is the Difference Between Cervical Thoracic and Lumbar Vertebrae?
Cervical vs Thoracic vs Lumbar Vertebrae
|Cervical vertebrae are the seven individual vertebrae located in the neck region, immediately below the skull.||Thoracic vertebrae are the twelve vertebrae which allow attachment sites for all ribs.||Lumbar vertebrae consist of five cylindrical bones that make the spine in the lower back of the body.|
|Number of Vertebrae|
|C1 – C7||T1 – T12||L1- L5|
|Smallest among three types||Larger than cervical, but smaller than lumbar vertebrae||Largest among cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae|
|Lightest vertebrae in the vertebral column||Heavier than cervical vertebrae, but lighter than lumbar vertebrae||Heaviest vertebrae|
|Have two transverse foramina in the transverse processes||Lack transverse foramina in the transverse processes||Lack transverse foramina in the transverse processes|
|Have two prominent facets||Have small facets||Do not have facets on either side of the body|
|Have slender and bifid spinous processes||Have long and fairly thick overlapping spinous processes||Have short and blunt spinous processes|
|Articular Facets for Ribs|
Summary – Cervical vs Thoracic vs Lumbar Vertebrae
Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar are three groups of vertebrae in the vertebral column. It has 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae. Cervical vertebrae are in the neck region of the midline of the body. Thoracic vertebrae have articular facets for ribs, and all ribs are attached to thoracic vertebrae. Lumbar vertebrae are the heaviest and largest among three types, and they form the spine in the lower back. This is the difference between cervical thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.
1.”Gray84″ By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body – Bartleby.com: Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 84 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Thoracic vertebrae animation4” By Anatomography – en: Anatomography (setting page of this image) (CC BY-SA 2.1 jp) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Lumbar vertebrae” By Anatomist90 – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia