Spinecare Topics

  • By: ISA Content Team
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Anatomy of The Spine
An Overview of the Basics

The spine or backbone is referred in the healthcare field as the vertebral column. The vertebral column functions to support the body, to protect neurological structures and to afford flexibility. The vertebral column also provides sensory input to the central nervous system via all of the specialized nerve ending in structures of the spine. This sensory input helps control movement and also alerts the brain about injury or inflammation involving the structures of the spine.The spine has to last a lifetime and therefore should be taken care of. No current engineering structure comes anywhere near meeting the dynamic specification and integration of the human spine.

The spine is a complex area of the body comprised of bones, intervertebral discs, muscles, joints and ligaments.

The spine has four primary purposes:

1) to maintain the structure of the trunk,

2) to allow for bodily movement,

3) to protect the nervous system and

4) to act as a shock absorber with a sensory system to provide feedback to the brain through countless specialized nerve endings in spinal tissues.

The spinal column is a series of bones each referred to as a vertebra.With the exception of the top two vertebrae, each pair of vertebrae are separated by an intervertebral disc which serves as a spacer and provides for movement and shock-absorption. The discs provide the spine with flexibility and serve as shock absorbers. The center of the disc is jelly-like and it is contained by tough circular fibers that are anchored to the adjacent bones (vertebrae). The spinal canal is formed by the pedicles and lamina creating a bony ring to protect the spinal cord and roots.

The spine is a column of functional units stacked upon one another. The functional spinal unit is composed of two vertebral bodies separated by a cushion? (the disc). Each functional unit moves independent of one another as well as collectively as part of the vertebral column. Each functional unit contains tissues which have a nerve supply and, therefore, are pain sensitive.

The spine is held in place by supportive muscles, tendons and ligaments.The ligaments are tough, non-elastic bands that hold adjacent bones together and provide stability to the spine. The spine is capable of bearing a significant amount of weight as well as bending and twisting.Spinal movement occurs due to the flexibility of the intervertebral disc, the presence of the spinal facet joints and as the result of muscular contractions.


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Educational Partners

To learn more about your spine. spinehealth, and available spinecare go to the International Spine Assocition (ISA) at www.spineinformation.org. The primary mission of the ISA is to improve spinehealth and spinecare through education. The ISA is committed to disseminating need-to-know information throught the World Wide Web in numerous languages covering many topics related to the spine, including information about spine disorders, spine heath, advances in technology and available spinecare



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All health information posted on the site is based on the latest research and national treatment standards, and have been written or reviewed and appoved by the American Acedemy of Spine Physicians and/or International Spine Association physicians or health professionals unless otherwise specified.



The information provided on this site is designed to support. not replace,
the relationship that exists between patient/site visitor and his/her physician.