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The Vertebral Column


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    The spine connects the shoulder to the pelvic girdle. Without the vertebral column, the top and the bottom of our body would be connected with soft tissue and we would not be able to stand up. The spine must be sufficiently rigid to support the top of our body and flexible enough to allow us to bend or twist our body. It is because the column is composed of several segments that allow this mobility. These segments (vertebrae) are linked to each other by a network of ligament, and several muscles and tendons. Between each vertebra there are cushions (intervertebral discs) that can be slightly compressed, thus allowing the changes due to movement.

    The spine is also made to protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the extension of the brain and conveys nerve information to and from your organs, muscles, sensory receptors, etc. The spinal cord is protected within a canal along the vertebral column, the vertebral foramen. At the different levels of the column, the nerves emerge or arrive between the vertebrae and innervate the body.

    Here are a few anatomical plates about the vertebral column. Click on the figures for a detailed view and nomenclature.

Ventral, dorsal and lateral (left to right) view of the vertebral column.

Lateral and dorsal view of the 5th thoracic vertebra.

Median section of a cervical intervertebral joint.

Median section of a lumbar intervertebral joint.
Top of the page.      TEXT© 2000-2015 René St-Jacques