Spine Structure

The spine’s purpose to transport signals between the brain and the rest of the body and to facilitate movement and posture means the spinal cord is both functionally and structurally important within the human body.

The spinal column protects the spinal cord, while the cord is the collection of nerves through which the brain transfers signals to the rest of the body.

The Spinal Cord

Covered in a protective liquid called Cerebral Spinal Fluid and encased by the protective spinal column is the thin spinal cord that consists of nerve fibres which are an essential part of the human Central Nervous System.

The spinal cord connects the brain stem to the body in order for the brain to control the body and regulate the information sent back to it from the body.

The Spinal Column

The 33 bones of the spinal column are known individually as vertebra and are collectively known as vertebrae.

Vertebrae are connected by ligaments and muscles. Between them there is a disc of cartilage to ensure they do not cause damage to each other.

Nerves pass through holes in the vertebrae in order to connect the vast majority of the body between the brain and the pelvic area. This allow signals to be sent by the brain to all areas of the body.

The column also provides a frame for the torso and upper body that supports the body and facilitates mobility.

The spinal column’s 4 main purposes are as follows:

  1. To provide primary protection for the spinal cord
  2. To provide secondary protection for many internal organs
  3. To provide support for the weight of the body and for an upright posture
  4. To provide balance and an even distribution of weight to facilitate movement

The spinal column can be divided into 5 regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.

Cervical

Within the cervical region, at the top of the spinal column, there are 7 vertebrae that provide the neck and head with their wide range of movement.

Thoracic

Here there are 12 vertebrae which cannot move very much, although this region connects to the rib cage for structural strength purposes.

Lumbar

This region’s 5 vertebrae carry the majority of the weight of the body, so it is very strong but only has slightly more mobility than the thoracic region.

Sacrum

5 fused vertebrae make up the sacrum, which connects the spine to the hips behind the pelvis.

Coccyx

This is the very bottom of the spine, consisting of 4 fused vertebrae that act as a securing point for tendons and ligaments in the area of the body around the pelvis.