The Vertebra (Latin name: Vertebrae) forms a column of bones in the spine. The spine is the part of the skeleton that extends down the middle of the back. The spine plays an important role in posture, movement and it also protects the spinal cord. The spine is also called the spinal column, vertebral column or backbone.
The human spine consists of 33 vertebrae but some of them grow together in adults. There are seven cervicals (neck):
- 12 thoracics (chest region).
- 5 lumbar (lower back).
- 5 sacral (hip region).
- 4 coccygeal (tailbone region) vertebrae.
The vertebra are held in place by muscles and strong connective tissue called ligaments. Most vertebrae have fibrous intervertebral discs between them to absorb shock and enable the spine to bend. The spine normally has a slight natural curve.
Many people suffer from backaches. Sometimes the intervertebral disc, the tissue that lies between the vertebrae, sticks out and presses on nerves. This condition is called a slipped disc. It can cause severe pain in the lower back, thighs, and legs.