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Spine - Definition


The spine is another word for the vertebral column, and is an abbreviation of spinal column. It constitutes, therefore, a bony column made up of vertebra one on top of another, and joined by some fibrous intervertebral discs. The spine begins at the base of the skull and guarantees certain essential functions, including supporting the head and the rest of the skeleton, as well as protecting the spinal cord. The first seven vertebra are called the cervical vertebra, the following 12 are the thoracic vertebra, and the last five are the lumbar vertebra, all together making up the 24 vertebra of the spinal column. If the five sacral and four coccygeal vertebra are included, the column is defined as constituting 33 vertebra. The spine is naturally curved, forming an S shape with the cervical vertebra curving out convexly towards the front of the body, called cervical lordosis, the thoracic curving concavely, which is called thoracic kyphosis in extreme cases, and another convex curve at the lumbar vertebra, called lumbar lordosis. Nerves emerge from the spinal cord at each section, spreading out to innervate different areas of skin and muscle.