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Spine Anatomy

 

(1) Vertebrae: The bones of the neck and back. These provide structural support for the spine. They encase the spinal cord and the nerve roots and serve to protect them.

(2) Intervertebral Foramina: The intervertebral foramina also referred to as neuroforamina are spaces created by adjacent vertebrae through which the nerves that go to various parts of the body (nerve roots) travel.

(3) Facet Joint: The facet joints connect one vertebra to the vertebra above or below it. They are paired joints located behind and to sides of the intervertebral discs. Facet joints control the amount and direction of spinal movement.

(4) Intervertebral Discs: Fibrous pads, which separate the bones of the spine (vertebrae). The intervertebral discs allow for flexibility in your spine, serve as shock absorbers, and provide cushioning between the vertebrae. The center of the intervertebral disc is referred to as the nucleus pulposus, which is a substance much like firm Jello. The nucleus is surrounded by tough rings of tissue referred to collectively as the annulus, which is similar to a ligament in consistency.

(5) Spinal Cord: A bundle of nerve fibers that act as the "main cable," carrying both sensory (sensation) information and motor (movement) information between the brain and the rest of the body. The spinal cord contains sensory, motor, autonomic and special interconnecting nerves. The spinal cord has many blood vessels.

(6) Spinal Nerves: There are 30 pairs of nerve roots, which branch off the spinal cord and exit through the holes (intervertebral foramina) between the bone (vertebra) above and the bone (vertebra) below. The spinal nerves (nerve roots) transmit sensation and movement information to and from parts of your body so that you can feel sensations and move your body.

(7) Ligaments: Ligaments are tough tissues that help hold the bones of the spine (vertebrae) together and help limit the amount of movement of a joint. Ligaments may become lax causing to much movement of a joint (joint hypermobility) and subsequent pain.

(8) Muscles: Muscles are comprised of special tissues, which contract to allow the body to move. Muscle groups may become weak or tight, causing a "muscle imbalance." This can directly affect full movement of the spine and extremities.

(9) Tendons: Tendons are comprised of fibrous tissue that connect muscle to bone. They are the muscle’s attachment to the bone.

(10) Spinal Curves: The vertebrae of the spine are stacked on top of one another Collectively they form four continuous curves. They are as follows: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral curves. These anterior to posterior curves allow for flexibility and postural support.









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