Your spine is composed of many parts, including bone, cartilage and soft tissue. Below are terms that our physicians regularly use. Consider this an education, one short definition at a time. For more definitions, see our glossary of medical definitions.
Of or relating to your neck, which is comprised of seven cervical vertebrae. At SSI, a cervical bone refers to a spinal bone in your neck.
This funny-looking word refers to your tailbone. It’s a small bone connected to the sacrum, made up of four fused rudimentary vertebrae.
The relatively soft and spongy structural material between each of your vertebral bones. Discs provide impact resistance (like a shock absorber) while holding the spinal bones in place. A disc is composed of a gelatinous center surrounded by a tough fibrous outer ring or wall.
Paired joints that attach the rear part of one vertebrae to those above and below it.
The tough fibrous tissues that attach your bones together. Ligaments provide joint stability.
Referring to your lower back. It’s the area approximately six inches below your shoulder blades, where your spine curves in toward your abdomen. There are five lumbar vertebrae.
A main nerve branch off your spinal cord. Nerve roots leave the spine through openings between the vertebrae around the level of the discs.
The point at which your sacral spine attaches to your pelvis. See also Sacrum.
The area of your spine that connects the spine to your pelvis. It is comprised of five vertebrae that are fused together.
The nerve tissue that extends from your brain, protected by your spine. The spinal cord carries information between your body and your brain via the nerve roots.
The part of your skeleton that extends from the base of your skull to your pelvis. It acts as the main support for your body and protects your spinal cord. Composed of alternating vertebrae and discs, it’s divided into five areas: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and the coccyx.
The pointed, backward-facing projections of your vertebra bones. It’s what you feel if you run your hands down your spine. Ligaments and muscles attach to your spine here.
The tough fibrous tissue that attaches muscles to your bones.
The area of the spine that supports your rib cage. There are 12 thoracic vertebrae in your spine.
The bony segments of your spine. One unit includes the spinous process and the lamina, and is called a vertebra.