The Spine Anatomy and Function

Understanding the structure and functions of the spine can help you better understand some of the problems that occur from aging or injury.

The bones and the curves of spine

The spine is made up of 33 bones, each called a vertebra, that are stacked on one another with a DISC in-between.

It has three segments which form three natural curves. The "c-shaped" curves of the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine) are called lordosis and the "reverse c-shaped" curve of the chest (thoracic spine) is called kyphosis.

These curves are important for proper spinal balance and help us to stand upright. If any one of the curves becomes too large or small, it becomes difficult to stand up straight and our posture appears abnormal. Abnormal curvatures of the spine are also referred to as spinal deformity.(Refer to Kyphosis, Scoliosis or Spondylolisthesis)

Distribution of vertebrae

  • 7 cervical vertebra in your neck region,
  • 12 thoracic or Dorsal vertebrae at the back of your chest region,
  • 5 Lumbar vertebrae at the back of your abdomen ,
  • 5 sacral vertebrae at the back of your pelvis and
  • 4 small vertebra fused together to form the coccyx (tailbone).
The DISC and Facets

The Intervertebral disks are flat and round, and about a half inch thick in the lower back region and quarter inch in the neck region. They are made up of two components; a tough outer layer (annulus fibrosis) that surrounds a softer material called the nucleus pulposus. These discs act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones. Ligaments attached to the vertebrae also serve as supporting structures.

The vertebrae are connected to one another by two joints from behind called as FACET joints. Together with the Disc, they form a 3 joint complex allowing motion between the vertebrae.

These vertebrae connect to one another to create a canal in the center (Spinal canal) which houses the spinal cord and also protects it.

The spinal Cord

As you know, the spinal cord is an extension of the brain, containing nervous tissue. The spinal cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and surrounded by three protective layers called the meninges (dura, arachnoid, and pia mater).

There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves that come out of the spinal cord on either side of the vertebrae which transmit electrical signals from the spinal cord to different parts of your body.

The spinal cord ends at first Lumbar vertebra , below this is a collection of nerves known as the cauda equina, which is Latin for "horse's tail".

Injury to the spinal cord:

  • Any injury to the spinal cord may cause death of the nerve cells. Like the brain, the nerve cells once dead cannot be replaced. Hence, depending on the severity of injury, paralysis can be partial or complete and permanent.

Most common Causes

  • Trauma (fractures of the vertebra)
  • Infections of the spine (eg.Tuberculosis of spine)
  • Tumors of the spine or the spinal cord
  • Congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae causing crooked spine/ very narrow spinal canal
Functions of the spine
  • Spine is the main structural support to torso and neck, which allows to stand straight
  • The spine protects the spinal cord by forming a bony wall around it similar to the skull bone protecting the brain.
  • However, the spine is more complex as it allows movements of our body without causing any damage to the spinal cord.
Meet Our team
Dr. Mahesh B.H

M.S (Ortho) AIIMS
New Delhi
Spine Surgeon

Dr. Upendra B.N

M.S (Ortho) AIIMS
New Delhi
Spine Surgeon

Dr Raghavendra Rao D

MS Ortho, AFSA Spine(France)
Spine Surgeon

Dr. Vijay S

MS (Ortho)
Fellowship in Spine Surgery
(CMC, Vellore)
Spine Surgeon

Dr. Anand Jayaraman

M.B.B.S MRC Psych (UK)
Consultant Psychiatrist
(Pain Management)

Dr. Arun Kumar G.C

MS (Ortho)
Spine Registrar

Dr Vinay Jain K

MS (Ortho)
Spine Registrar

Mrs. Leena

Secretary & Co-ordinator

Mr. Gangadhar A.S