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Spine & Discs
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Spine & Discs

The spine is really 33 individual bones, or vertebrae, connected and kept aligned by ligaments and muscles. The spine supports the body, and allows standing, bending and twisting. It also protects the spinal cord, which transmits information between the body and brain via the nerves. Spine-Healthy_v2_20141126

From the side, the spine has an S-shaped curve, which acts like a spring to absorb shock, maintain balance and allow movement. The sections of the spine are:

  • Cervical (neck) – supports head and allows the neck to move
  • Thoracic (mid back) – holds the rib cage and protects the heart and lungs
  • Lumbar (lower back) – carries the weight of the trunk
  • Sacrum – connects the spine to the hip bones (iliac); forms the pelvic girdle with the iliac bones
  • Coccyx – attaches to the ligaments and muscles of the pelvic floor

A disc that acts like a cushion and stops the bones rubbing together separates each vertebra. The outer ring of the discs, called the annulus, has criss-crossing bands that attach to each vertebra. The discs have a gel-filled centre called the nucleus. This acts like a ball-bearing, allowing the vertebrae to roll over each other. The gel absorbs fluid when lying down during the night, and fluid is pushed out during the day while moving.

Figures

Healthy Spine

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