The vertebral column is the backbone, and is very important for many different reasons.
- Protection of the spinal cord.
- Connection of muscles to the vertebral column
There are 33 irregular bones that make up the vertebral column. They are placed in five groups according to where they are along the vertebral column.
Cervical vertebae allow movements at the top of the spine; there are seven of them. The top two vertebrae are called the atlas and axis; they allow you to nod and move your head.
The Thoracic region is made up of 12 vertebrae. 10 of these are attached to the ribs and help movement when breathing.
The five lumbar vertebrae are the largest as they take a lot of weight and are in the area of the vertebral column that allows the most movement.
The sacrum has five vertebrae, which become fused during adulthood. They are part of the pelvic girdle.
At the bottom of the spine is the coccyx, where four vertebrae are fused together.
In between each vertebrae there are cartilage discs. These help stop damage, wear and tear and eroding of the vertebrae through constant movement.