The human spine plays an extremely important role in our bodies as it supports the upper body’s weight; provides posture while allowing for movement and flexibility; and protects the spinal cord.
It is made up of 24 bones or vertebrae and are divided into different regions. These regions are called the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum and coccyx.
The vertebrae are connected to each other through intervertebral discs. Each disc forms a joint to allow movement of the spine. The disc is made of two parts, a tough and fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosis) and a soft, gelatinous center (nucleus pulposus). These two parts work together to allow the spine to move, and function as a shock absorber for the spine. Above and below each vertebra are joints called facet joints.
The vertebrae of the spine align so that their vertebral canals form a hollow, bony tube to protect the spinal cord from external damage and infection. Between the vertebrae are small spaces known as intervertebral canals that allow spinal nerves to exit the spinal cord and connect to the various regions of the body.