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1. a thornlike process or projection; called also acantha and spina.
2. the rigid bony structure in the midline of the back, composed of the vertebrae; called also backbone, spinal column, and vertebral column.

The spinal column is the axis of the skeleton; the skull and limbs are in a sense appendages. The vertebrae also provide the protective bony corridor (spinal canal) through which the spinal cord passes; they can move to a certain extent and so give flexibility to the spine, allowing it to bend forward, sideways and, to a lesser extent, backward. In the areas of the neck and lower back, the spine also can pivot, which permits the turning of the head and torso.

There are usually 24 movable vertebrae and nine that are fused together. The topmost are the seven cervical vertebrae, which form the back of the neck, supporting the skull. The head turns from side to side by means of a pivotal motion between the two highest vertebrae. Below these are the 12 thoracic vertebrae, the supports on which the ribs are hinged, and then the five lumbar vertebrae, the largest movable vertebrae (the cervical are the smallest). Below the lumbar vertebrae, the spine terminates with two groups of vertebrae fused into single bones: the sacrum, composed of five vertebrae, and the coccyx, composed of four vertebrae. Viewed from the side of the body, the spine has the shape of a gentle double S curve.
Malformations of the Spine. Of the various types of spinal malformations, some are congenital and others the result of postural defects or injuries. spina bifida is congenital. kyphosis may occasionally be congenital but is more often caused by one of the diseases that attack the structure of the bones. The most common of these is pott's disease, or tuberculosis affecting the vertebrae and soft tissues of the spine. Another is osteitis deformans, a type of bone inflammation in which parts of the bone are replaced by softer tissue. scoliosis is a curvature of the spine toward one side.
cervical spine that portion of the spine comprising the cervical vertebrae.
lumbar spine that portion of the spine comprising the lumbar vertebrae.
thoracic spine that part of the spine comprising the thoracic vertebrae.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

ver·te·bral col·umn

the series of vertebrae that extend from the cranium to the coccyx, providing support and forming a flexible bony case for the spinal cord.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


1. The vertebrate spine or spinal column.
2. Chemistry The main chain of atoms in a polymer.

back′boned′ adj.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Vox populi Vertebral column, see there.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

ver·te·bral col·umn

(vĕr'tĕ-brăl kol'ŭm) [TA]
The series of vertebrae that extend from the cranium to the coccyx, providing support and forming a flexible bony case for the spinal cord.
Synonym(s): columna vertebralis [TA] , backbone, rachis, spina, spinal column, spine (2) .
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


The vertebral column or spine.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005

Patient discussion about backbone

Q. Anyone have knowledge of cancer in the spine? Doctors think my 40 year old brother has. My brother has been undergoing test and treatnment for back problems since a vehicle accident in August. The did a test last week and Monday said they saw 4 nodules they think are cancer, his doctor said everytime he had seen this it was cancer. I am devestated right now but trying to stay positive. I am sure you will notice it on the site b/c I know it is affecting me and the stress and worry has the fibromyalgia kicking in at full speed:-( PLEASE anything you can tell me would be a help!

A. Thank you for the answer and the prayers!

Q. I have hurt my cervical spine and shoulder in a rear end car crash in July. Why does it still hurt?

A. Spine and back injuries are known to to be causing a lot of pain and discomfort and for a long period of time. You should try and do some mellow exercise and physiotherapy that might help you a lot. If the pain is unbarable, you should consult your doctor about using pain medications.

Q. Has anyone had a spine fusion that failed? Or hardware that failed?

A. Haven't experienced it myself, but here ( you may find a discussion about it.

More discussions about backbone
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References in periodicals archive ?
12, it indicates that not only space between side chain and backbone decreases to form interaction but also binding-like structures develop to increase rigidity of backbones, which explain perfectly that the tensile strength and initial modulus of the ODPA-DABBE6 system are higher than that of the ODPA-DABBE0, particularly, the initial modulus.
The goal of the storage network backbone architecture is to be modular enough to accommodate future network directions in the least disruptive and most cost-efficient manner possible.
The optical Internet is built on a purely photonic backbone, with the service or IP layer of the network directly linked with the transport or photonic layer.
Bill Bouie, of HCI Technologies Inc., Reston, Va., a full-service consulting firm specializing in information technology, says he sees movement among health institutions, particularly in major metropolitan areas, toward ATM and Sonet-based backbones.
Specialized software packages perform packet categorization: the T1 backbone used NNStat [3] for collection; the T3 backbone uses ARTS (ANSnet Router Traffic Statistics) [1], a package with similar functionality.
Being demonstrated at the CeBIT trade show opening tomorrow in Germany, the TMX 880's distinctive internetworking capabilities satisfy customer needs for a unified backbone that can expand and scale profitable asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) and frame relay services today and prepare for the emerging demand for Internet protocol (IP) services.
This technology -- Assimilator -- allows the P-NAP to determine which routes are connected to which backbones and to place all Seanet customer outbound traffic directly onto the destination backbone in one router hop.
Many internetworks are a combination of the two -- collapsed backbones in each building and a distributed backbone across the campus, or collapsed backbones in some buildings and distributed backbones in others.
Two projects are expected to be finished in December next year: the Cebu-Negros-Panay 230-kV backbone and the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), the first project to be declared an Energy Project with National Significance (EPNS).
In 2009, she started BACKBONES, and the community has been supportive in the organization's fundraising efforts for more than 10 years.
Telia Carrier's global fiber backbone is the first network to successfully transmit 1 Tb/s in super channels on its US network.
In [11], the vehicles parked on the pavement or in parking lots are selected as backbones, which extend the coverage of the network.