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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

what are the different types of respiratory system
Tejal Reply
how can I do practice question
takesha Reply
through quetion answer format
mutesi
what type of gland is the liver?
deng
A solid gland? Is that what you meant? Or u could say it's a digestive gland but also filtrates blood, among other things. So it kinda fits many roles. Unless I'm wrong, but feel free to correct me if I am.
Ryan
what is the consequence of performing CPR on a functioning heart.
Pyefa Reply
The central part of the body
Alex Reply
i thought a cell is the fuctional unit of an orgarnism.
mutesi Reply
what is the name for inflammation of middle ear?
Madu
otitis media
Chidiebere
Describe an experiment to verify the law of constant composition
Ssekamatte Reply
amazing the exprement is hard to set up can you please help us describe it for us?
Momoh
Explain the major features and properties of the cell membrane
Robina Reply
contants ofa lipid bilayers w the enbedded proteins it is faction of the cell membaren
bariise
it is made up of protein,fat and a small portion of carbohydrates. it is semipermeable but impermeable to uncharged water molecules.
Chidiebere
thx
Robina
What are blood vessels of will's circle
Madu Reply
vertebral arteries and cerebral arteries
Chidiebere
What are sutures of cranial cavity ?
Madu Reply
there are four. the coronal, sagittal, squamous and lambhoidal sutured
Chidiebere
structure of a cell
Robina
pelvic cavity contents?
unimarwat Reply
ilium ,ischium ,pubis
Madu
but that is the three parts of the hip bone
Chidiebere
Describe the muscular skeletal system in terms of definition.. Skeleton Apendicular skeleton Axial skeleton Joints
Sherrine Reply
the basic framework of body made and cartilage is called skeleton skeleton which form limbs is called appendicular skeleton skeleton which form main axis of body is called axial skeleton the points at two or more bones meets is called joints
unimarwat
write short notes on ligaments,curves and moverment of vertebral column.
mutesi Reply
cranial nerves notes
unimarwat
what is the Analysis
ROHIT Reply
what is Anatomy
ROHIT Reply
it's a organs and bouns reading
AJITH
Cutting Up
Nonie
Cutting Up
Nonie
to dissect
Nonie
what usually cause blood pressurae
Abdullateef Reply
too much salt in the diet
Abuusu
older age
Abuusu
Even family history of high blood pressure
Abuusu
yes
Yaqub
too much salt in the diet
Yaqub
stress is the leading factor
Richard
smoking and too much alcohol consumption
Annu
obesity can also cause hypertension
Yaqub
high temperature of the body high salt of the body
Drs
how does the temperature affect the blood pressure?
Chidiebere
sex
Onavwie
What sex.?
Arshad
Male
Vikas
i mearnt gender,there's increased blood pressure in male than female
Onavwie
guys, read the question, involuntary pumping of heart causes the blood pressure in the arteries, he has not asked about high or low BP.
Jess

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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