The spine is divided into three sections:
Each section of the spine contains different structures that stabilize the spine and permit movement. The spine is made up of the spinal cord and nerves, vertebrae, intervertebral disc, joints, muscles and ligaments. Failure of any of these structures can lead to pain, loss of movement or neurological deficit.
- The spinal cord runs through the spinal canal and nerves exit into the arms and legs.
- The vertebrae are the bones that give the spine its shape. They protect the spinal cord and nerves.
- The intervertebral discs are shock absorbers that sit between the vertebrae. It contains a nucleus pulposus, which is its soft, inner core and the annulus which is the outer tough cartilage.
- There are many joints in the spine. Facet joints connect the vertebrae and allow for movement.
- Numerous ligaments connect the vertebrae.
- Muscles stabilize the spine and contract to permit movement.