Vertebral column refers to the bony structure that extends from the cranium to the coccyx and encloses the spinal cord.
The vertebral column, also known as the spine, is a series of bones called vertebrae that make up the axial skeleton of humans and other vertebrates. The vertebral column runs from the base of the skull to the pelvis, and its primary function is to support the weight of the head, neck, and trunk, and protect the spinal cord.
The vertebral column is divided into five regions, including the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal regions. Each region is made up of a specific number of vertebrae that are named based on their location in the column. For example, the cervical region contains seven vertebrae, the thoracic region contains twelve, the lumbar region contains five, the sacral region contains five that are fused together, and the coccygeal region contains four that are also fused together.
Some common examples of conditions that can affect the vertebral column include:
- Herniated disc: A condition in which the soft inner portion of a vertebral disc pushes through a crack in the tougher outer layer, causing pain and nerve irritation.
- Scoliosis: A sideways curvature of the spine that can cause uneven shoulders or hips and affect the function of the lungs and heart in severe cases.
- Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause compression of the spinal cord or nerves and lead to pain, weakness, or numbness in the limbs.
- Osteoporosis: A condition in which the bones become weak and brittle, leading to an increased risk of vertebral fractures.