Anatomy of the Spine

The spine consists of 33 bones or vertebrae, 24 of which are separate bones allowing movement and 9 which are fused together. The 5 sections of the spine or vertebral column are the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacrum which includes the coccyx.


Structure of the spine

Structure of the spine
  • The Cervical spine makes up the neck and has 7 vertebrae. The top two bones are known as the atlas and axis and are different from the others to allow rotation of the skull as well as forwards and backward.
  • The Thoracic spine has 12 vertebrae to which the ribs attach. They are larger than the cervical vertebrae as they have to support more of the body’s weight.
  • The Lumbar spine has 5 vertebrae that make up the lower back.
  • The Sacrum consists of 5 bones that are fused or stuck together and the coccyx is made up of 4 tiny bones and used to be a tail.

Intervertebral Discs

Each vertebra is separated by intervertebral discs which are flexible cartilage discs. These allow movement in the spine and have a shock-absorbing or cushioning function as well.

Each disc is made up of two parts, a tougher fibrous outside and a central substance called nucleus pulposus. When a disc is damaged (or prolapsed) it is the squidgy liquid in the middle which often squeezes out putting pressure on the spinal cord and causing pain.

About The Author

Scroll to Top