<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe each region of the vertebral column and the number of bones in each region
  • Discuss the curves of the vertebral column and how these change after birth
  • Describe a typical vertebra and determine the distinguishing characteristics for vertebrae in each vertebral region and features of the sacrum and the coccyx
  • Define the structure of an intervertebral disc
  • Determine the location of the ligaments that provide support for the vertebral column

The vertebral column is also known as the spinal column or spine ( [link] ). It consists of a sequence of vertebrae (singular = vertebra), each of which is separated and united by an intervertebral disc    . Together, the vertebrae and intervertebral discs form the vertebral column. It is a flexible column that supports the head, neck, and body and allows for their movements. It also protects the spinal cord, which passes down the back through openings in the vertebrae.

Vertebral column

This image shows the structure of the vertebral column. The left panel shows the front view of the vertebral column and the right panel shows the side view of the vertebral column.
The adult vertebral column consists of 24 vertebrae, plus the sacrum and coccyx. The vertebrae are divided into three regions: cervical C1–C7 vertebrae, thoracic T1–T12 vertebrae, and lumbar L1–L5 vertebrae. The vertebral column is curved, with two primary curvatures (thoracic and sacrococcygeal curves) and two secondary curvatures (cervical and lumbar curves).

Regions of the vertebral column

The vertebral column originally develops as a series of 33 vertebrae, but this number is eventually reduced to 24 vertebrae, plus the sacrum and coccyx. The vertebral column is subdivided into five regions, with the vertebrae in each area named for that region and numbered in descending order. In the neck, there are seven cervical vertebrae, each designated with the letter “C” followed by its number. Superiorly, the C1 vertebra articulates (forms a joint) with the occipital condyles of the skull. Inferiorly, C1 articulates with the C2 vertebra, and so on. Below these are the 12 thoracic vertebrae, designated T1–T12. The lower back contains the L1–L5 lumbar vertebrae. The single sacrum, which is also part of the pelvis, is formed by the fusion of five sacral vertebrae. Similarly, the coccyx, or tailbone, results from the fusion of four small coccygeal vertebrae. However, the sacral and coccygeal fusions do not start until age 20 and are not completed until middle age.

An interesting anatomical fact is that almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, regardless of body size. This means that there are large variations in the size of cervical vertebrae, ranging from the very small cervical vertebrae of a shrew to the greatly elongated vertebrae in the neck of a giraffe. In a full-grown giraffe, each cervical vertebra is 11 inches tall.

Curvatures of the vertebral column

The adult vertebral column does not form a straight line, but instead has four curvatures along its length (see [link] ). These curves increase the vertebral column’s strength, flexibility, and ability to absorb shock. When the load on the spine is increased, by carrying a heavy backpack for example, the curvatures increase in depth (become more curved) to accommodate the extra weight. They then spring back when the weight is removed. The four adult curvatures are classified as either primary or secondary curvatures. Primary curves are retained from the original fetal curvature, while secondary curvatures develop after birth.

Questions & Answers

yellow marrow has been identified as
Raychelle Reply
Which of the following accurately describe external resipration
Gwendolyn Reply
from the heart to the lungs
Phee
I think it's not outside organ of respiratory all respiratory organ are inside of human body
Moha
diffusion of CO2 and oxygen at a pulmonary capillary surrounding an alveolar sac.
Jeremiah
In other words, from the external environment to the lungs (alveoli) then to the pulmonary capillary then to the heart. So this is a stage of inhalation. inhale = external respiration.
Jeremiah
What kind of discussion
horyaal Reply
what is the function of the placenta
Nchimunya Reply
The placenta acts to provide oxygen and nutrientsto the fetus, whilst removing carbon dioxide and other waste products.
Moha
Also it's the barrier through which the mother is connected to the fetus.
Samuel
I want to discuss... atherosclerosis.., everything about it, about to treatment n prevention at age 50 +
Doctors
Please participate in discussion
Doctors
ok let's discuss now
Moha
first define the word artherosclerosis
Moha
a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls.
tabe
hardening of the arteries, due to fats..
jenelyn
Q = which type of fat utilized for this.., I.e LDL, HDL, TG, VLDL...?
Doctors
Atherosclerosis is a condition of deposition of plaque inside the artries
Arvind
Plaque include such as fat, chalestrol, calcium etc
Arvind
Thank you kumar...., is there any way that we can protect these plaques without any medicines., I. e exercises n food stuffs
Doctors
go to the gym
Moha
what is chylomicrons?
Moha
how can plaque buildup in The angina or vessels ?
Moha
Atherosclerosis is a condition of deposition of plaque inside the artries
Doctors
atherosclerosis can also be caused by tortuousness of arteries with old age as contributing factor.
edward
You tube Prof Fink...he is an amazing lecturer and does a brilliant job on arteriosclerosis
Jacqueline
what are cell
Chigozie Reply
The basic structural and functional unit of any living thing. Each cell is a small container of chemicals and water wrapped in a membrane. 
Yusuf
cell is the structural and functional basic unit of life
Zaid
So every living thing was Created From a Cell
Anthony
from a fusion of two cells , the sperm and the egg
Shikoh
What is the only bone that doesn't have any articulation?
Jimmy
that magical fusion of cells
OBED
why body immune system attack and destroy the body own cell during type 1 diabetes?
Sanamacha Reply
It's an autoimmune disease... targeting the pancreas
Claudia
what are the three genetic defects of pregnancy?
Belinda Reply
structure of fallopian tubes
Akash Reply
what z the role played by the transport system
zinitha Reply
how fats are digested in the human body
Nabukwasi Reply
Fat digestion begins in the stomach but some argue in that it starts in the mouth. Reason is because the sublingual gland secretes an enzyme called lingual lipase. However, this enzyme is not activated until it comes into contact with gastric fluids (HCl). In the stomach, HCl breaks down the lipid..
Jeremiah
due to body heat
Mule
into smaller molecules. Going from a triglyceride and a fatty acid to a monoglyceride and a a fatty acid no longer bound to one another. This is known as lipolysis.
Jeremiah
After lipolysis in the stomach from gastric and lingual lipase, an acidic chyme is produced after stomach churning the bolus. The chyme exits the stomach at the pyloric sphincter and enters the first section of the small intestine known as the duodenum.
Jeremiah
in the duodenum. An alkaline mucus from goblet cells neutralizes the acidic chyme to prevent acid burns. After that, the pancreas and gallbladder secrete a number of enzymes to continue lipolysis. Bile from the gallbladder enters the duodenum via common bile duct. The acinar cells in the pancreas...
Jeremiah
secretes pancreatic lipase after enteroendocrine cells in the duodenum secrete a stimulator hormone called CCK. Cck stimulates bile synthesis and secretion as well as pancreatic lipase.
Jeremiah
Bile emuslifies the lipid, allowing the lipases to continue lipolysis
Jeremiah
this breakdown continues until it reaches the jejunum of the small intestines. At this point, the lipid has been broken down small enough to absorbed into the blood stream. So villi in the jejunum, absorb the contents.
Jeremiah
ileum, the last small intestine region, absorbs anything that wasn't absorbed previously. Like minerals, vitamins, bile salts, water soluble material. Villi here complete that task. Fatty acid and glycerol however, are absorbed by lacteals. small lymph vessels. And are transported to the liver.
Jeremiah
That concludes lipid digestion. Anything else that remains is deficated after it travels through the large intestines.
Jeremiah
parents with blood group AB & 0,,,what will b the blood group of their offspring
imran
what are the different branches of anatomy
Nabukwasi
hopefully that helped.
Jeremiah
which ion is low of blood level?
Ezra Reply
what is coagulation?
feng Reply
liquid turning to solid... blood clots.
Kristy
coagulation : liquid blood into blood clots caused with a coagulant.
jaime
when the blood turn from liquid form to solid
June
it said to coagulate by the action of active plasma protein called *fibrin*
Hassan
I.e liquid inform of blood when to solid
Hassan
it is the process by which blood becomes more viscous or becomes thick
CHRISTOPHER
cloting of blood cells
Kabange
clot of blood
Moses
the process of forming semi solid lumps in a liquid
rida
conversion of blood to solid state
Ezra
semi solid., rather than solid form
Doctors
what is pivot functioned
Ever
to less thefriction
Hirsi
how to calculate the micrograph
Ampong Reply
it can be used to knw the disease condition
Akbar Reply
which gland secret tears
Opoku
lacrimal glands
Diego
explain the blood supply to the brain
Brenda Reply
There are two paired arteries which are responsible for the blood supply to the brain; the vertebral arteries, and the internal carotid arteries. These arteries arise in the neck, and ascend to the cranium.
Sabrina
two arteries main vertebral arteries & internal carotid artery
Akbar

Get the best Anatomy & Physiology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Anatomy & Physiology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask