What is the anatomy of the spine?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

The backbone is made up of the bones, muscles, tendons, and other tissues that reach from the base of the skull to the tailbone. The backbone encloses the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. The backbone is also called the spinal column, spine, and vertebral column.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Instititute.

Dr. Stephen Q. Parker, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist

Briefly the structure of the spine is a series of vertebrae, which are oval shaped bones that are attached to in some areas what could be determined to be a three-horned or a T-shaped network of bone that is responsible for mans upright posture. The structure of the spine consists of the following. The cervical spine, which involves the neck area, has seven vertebrae. Next, the thoracic spine contains 12 vertebrae. The lumbar spine (commonly referred to as the “lower back”) contains five vertebrae. The fourth and fifth lumbar segments are the most common areas of pain and disk injury. Lastly there is the sacral spine and then the coccyx, or tailbone.

The intervertebral disks are shock absorbers which are located in between the vertebrae. The spinal nerves are nerves which exit out of the sides of the vertebrae at most levels through the spinal canal. These nerves control sensation and movement in the various parts of the body. There are also spinal ligaments and tendons that connect muscle to bone, and they are important with respect to being able to withstand the forces that gravity and activity bring to the skeleton.

The anatomy of the spine, also called the backbone, includes bones that protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries messages from the brain to the body. Vertebrae are all the bones that make up the spine. There is a disc between each vertebra that acts like a pad or shock absorber. There are also two joints at the back of each vertebra, and together with the disc, they help people bend and twist their body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.