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 ID: 47

Chronic Pain Conditions - General Info   


Spinal Column Primer 101
by Stephanie (Stevie) Reisinger, RN, PA


Our Spinal column is made up of bones called vertebrae. The function of these vertebral bodies is to protect the spinal cord, which is an extremely fragile part of our anatomy, and runs through the center of the spine. The spinal cord actually only runs approximately three fourths of the way down the spine, where it then becomes a bundle of nerves called the cauda equina, or horses tail. Emerging from the spinal cord between the vertebrae are the spinal nerves. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves, divided into motor and sensory roots. These nerve roots are responsible for sending the commands from our brain to our skeletal muscles and to other parts of our body. In between each of the vertebrae there are discs which are composed of cartilage, and which help to cushion the spine. [1]


There are 33 vertebrae in the human body. 7 are cervical (the neck), 12 are thoracic (the middle of the back), 5 are lumbar (the low back), and then the sacral curve consists of 5 sacral and 4 coccyges vertebrae. In adults, the 5 sacral vertebrae have fused into a single bone called the sacrum, and the 4 coccygeal vertebrae fused to form the coccyx. [2]






[1] The Merck Manual of Medical Information. Second Home Edition, published by Merck Research Laboratories, 2003. How the Spine Is Organized. P.436.

This article represents the author's opinions and not those of the website operator. We are not offering individualized diagnoses or medical  advice, just general medical information
Published on site 7/3/08


 Last Updated: Tue, 8 Mar 2011 03:11:12 UTC

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