The spinal column is composed of the spine and the spinal cord. The spine or backbone is a flexible bony structure that gives us our posture and protects the spinal cord, and is composed of 33 bones/vertebrae.
Protecting vertebrae and the spinal cord from damage through everyday activity are discs between each vertebrae that cushion and act as shock absorbers. These vertebrae and discs are held together by ligaments and muscles that allow for stability and flexibility. Through the centre of the spinal column is a canal where the spinal cord is found.
The spinal cord is actually a continuation of the brain that starts at the base of the skull and continues down to the second lumbar vertebrae. It has the diameter of a dime and the texture of a pasta noodle not quite cooked. The spinal cord is a highway of pathways that carry impulses/messages between the brain and the body about voluntary movement and sensation of touch, temperature, pressure and pain. There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves that carry messages along these pathways, which enter and exit along the length of the spinal cord.
The spinal column is divided into four areas. Each area contains vertebrae and spinal nerves. Use our spine to the left to find out what these sections are, as well as what parts of your body are controlled by the spinal cord, and how an injury to those parts of your back can affect you in your everyday life.