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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.
backboneVox populi Vertebral column, see there.
ver·te·bral col·umn(vĕr'tĕ-brăl kol'ŭm) [TA]
Synonym(s): columna vertebralis [TA] , backbone, rachis, spina, spinal column, spine (2) .
backboneThe vertebral column or spine.
backbonesee VERTEBRAL COLUMN.
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!
Q. I have hurt my cervical spine and shoulder in a rear end car crash in July. Why does it still hurt?
Q. Has anyone had a spine fusion that failed? Or hardware that failed?