Anatomy of the Spine

The spinal column is made up of 33 short bones called vertebrae. They are stacked on top of one another and have an opening to allow the spinal cord to run through, this is known as the spinal canal.


The spinal column gives support and allows us to stand upright, bend, and twist. Vertebrae are named and numbered according to the area in which they are found. 

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Messages are sent to and from the brain and body by nerves in the spinal cord in the protective spinal canal. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves that branch off the spinal cord. The nerve at each level will supply a specific area of the body. 

Between each vertebra there is an intervertebral disc to cushion and separate the bones. These discs are gel filled and have a tougher fibrous outer layer. The intervertebral discs act as a shock absorber. 

The vertebrae have bony processes and each vertebra has four facet joints. The facet joints allow movement and connect to the vertebra above and below.




Surrey Orthopaedic Clinic

Spine & Back Pain Specialists:​​​​

Dr Giancarlo Camilleri


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