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Vertebral column

The vertebral column, also known as the spinal column, is a flexible column that encloses the spinal cord and also supports the head. It consists of various groups of vertebrae and is divided into five different areas. An internal disk is located between each vertebra. A gelatinous substance called nucleus pulposus can be found in each disk, which provides cushioning to the spinal column. The vertebrae are stacked on top of each other into groups. The groups of the vertebrae consist of:

  • 7 cervical vertebrae, which are located in the neck
  • 12 thoracic vertebrae, located in the upper area of the back
  • 5 lumbar vertebrae
  • 5 sacral vertebrae
  • 4 coccygeal vertebrae

A normal adult has four curvatures in the vertebral column. Their main purpose is to align the head with a vertical line through the pelvis. Those in the chest and sacrum region are called the kyphosis, while the ones in the lower back and neck area are called lordosis.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Vertebral column

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