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Vertebral column

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(ver-TEE-brul KAH-lum) The bones called vertebrae, muscles, tendons, and other tissues that reach from the base of the skull to the tailbone.

Vertebral column
Vertebral column


The vertebral column encloses the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the spinal cord.

Other names

Also called backbone, spinal column, and spine.


The vertebrae (back bones) of the spine include the cervical spine (C1-C7), thoracic spine (T1-T12), lumbar spine (L1-L5), sacral spine (S1-S5), and the tailbone.

Muscles of the back
Muscles of the back

Intervertebral disc

Each vertebra is separated by a disc.

Spinal cord

The vertebrae surround and protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord is divided into segments, each containing a pair of spinal nerves that send messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Spine with cord
Spine with cord

Cauda equina

Many spinal nerves extend beyond the conus medullaris (the end of the spinal cord) to form a bundle of nerves called the cauda equina.


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