Vertebral column


A series of irregular bones comprises the vertebral column. These bones are segregated by cartilage known as fibrocartilaginous inter-vertebral disks. Each vertebrate is responsible for providing protection as well as passage for the spinal cord, the fluid associated with the spinal cord, and provide the skull with support and assist in the process of skull motion. The vertebrate column also provides a convenient location for the attachment of muscles which originate from the trunk and provide a grounding attachment for the ribs. Also known as the backbone, the vertebrate column accepts and cushions shock from the body’s movements and provides flexibility in the form of structure along the back, allowing for movement of the trunk and waist.


The spinal column is created by both the vertebral column as well as the spinal cord. The vertebral column is responsible for 4 basic functions, including providing support for the head and upper extremities with restricting motion, the enabling process of the dipedalism, to provide secure attachment for the muscles of the surrounding muscles, bones, and organs, and to provide the protective passageway for the spinal cord.

33 individual vertebrate comprise the spinal column, although not all 33 provide movement as some are fused. The vertebrates are segregated into various sections for clarity based on location and function. These separations include the 7 cervical vertebrates, 12 thoracic vertebrates, 5 lumbar vertebrates, the fused 3 to 5 sacral vertebrates, and the fused 4 to 5 coccygeal vertebrates. This leaves the adult human body with moving parts of the spine.


Vertebral Column
Image: Vertebral Column

The vertebrates, which are cushioned and separated by disks of cartilage are then held together with ligaments and interlocking processes. This design allows the entire vertebral column ample movement but limits movement between each individual bone. The openings between each vertebrate which allow for the passage of the nerves are known as intervertebral foramina and allow for continual communication and protection as it relates to the spinal column. A profile of the spine reveals 4 distinctive curvatures that are designated as the lumbar section, the pelvic curve, the cervical section, and the thoracic section, named primarily for their location and the type of vertebrate which are included in the section.


The sacral curve, which is often referred to as the pelvic curve, retains it shape by the formation of the sacrum and coccyx. Without the gentle curvature of the spine, the human body would experience great difficulty in maintaining an upright position as well as finding an appropriate place of balance. Strength of the human body is directly determined by the curvature of the upper portion of the spine and creates the bipedal stance that humans are accustomed to.

The infant body is lacking these 4 basic curves of the spine. The shape of the fetus is retained by the pelvic and thoracic curves. Because of this, these are considered the primary curves. Curves that develop after birth are called the secondary curves. The cervical curve does not develop until an infant body begins to develop the strength to hold its own head up, around the age of three months. As an infant learns more skills, such as sitting up, the curvature of the spine begins to become more defined. When a baby learns to walk, the lumbar curve develops.
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