About the Spine
The spine, also known as the spinal column, vertebral column or back bone, is a column of bones that runs from the base of the skull to the bottom of the back.
In the spine of an adult there are 26 bones, comprising of 24 separate vertebrae interspaced with cartilage, the sacrum (base bone) and the coccyx (tail bone). This differs in those who are pre-adolescent. Prior to adolescence the spine is made up of 33 bones, this is because the sacrum’s five bones and the coccyx’s four bones do not fuse together until adolescence.
The vertebrae are named by the first letter of their region, which can be cervical, thoracic or lumbar. They are then given a number which indicates their position along the spine, for example the fifth lumbar vertebrae would be identified as L5.
They are separated by thin layers of cartilage, known as intervertebral discs.
The vertebrae align so that the vertebral canals form a hollow, bony tube through which the spinal cord runs. This protects the spinal cord from external damage and infection.