basics of spine, disk and its common injuries

The spine carries the load of the body and head, running from the skull to the pelvis with its family of 33 bones.

because of the two legged posture humans beings enjoy and the still more important responsibility of protecting the vital spinal cord.

cervical vertebra or the neck bones are from C1 to C5

The bones of the upper back and in line with the chest are called thoracic vertebrae, ranging from T1 to T12.

the lumbar vertebra are the bone which lies at lower back from L1 to L5

S1 to S5 comes after the lumbar vertebra

and there are 4 caudal vertebra (coccygeal) vertebra


Each vertebra is linked to the vertebra above and below.

at these points, they articulate with each other through the facet joint.

which keeps all the vertebra in their correct position and in alignment with each other

it has spinal shock absorber called disk which separates each vertebra from the next.

each vertebra has an anterior body and a posterior neural arch. the body has the tough outer cortex and cancellous middle portion.

It is supported in front by the anterior longitudinal ligament and in the back by the posterior longitudinal ligament.

the posterior neural arch consists of two pedicles, two transverse process, a posterior spinous process, and a pair of lamina,

which together form the spinal canal along with the posterior surface of the body.

in the canal there lie the most important part which is spinal cord

while ligamentum flavum binds the laminae together, the interspinous ligament binds the spinous processes and the supraspinous ligament binds the tip of the spinous process.

all these structures mentioned helps in providing the stability.

A spine with an intact posterior element that refuses to be displaced further after the initial injury is called a stable spine.

an unstable spine is one, which displaces further due to serious disruptions of the structures jeopardizing the spinal cord

the three column concept is the latest description of the spine stability.

the anterior column consists of anterior half of the vertebral body, anterior part of the disk and anterior longitudinal ligament .

the middle column consists of posterior half of the body and the disk, the posterior longitudinal ligament

the posterior column consist of the posterior vertebral arch consisting of transverse process, spinous process and the accompanying ligaments.

one column injury is stable, two-column injury is unstable, and three column are invariably unstable.

unstable spine is a dangerous spine because it may injure the spinal cord

functions of disk

The disk has in the center nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus at the periphery

it binds vertebra together

allows the motion

it acts as a shock absorber

distributes load between the segments

contributes to lordosis

comprises approximately 25% of the total length of the spinal column.

common injuries

Injuries to the spine are dangerous if they involve any neurological damage.

The results can be devastating, though the diagnostic and treatment methods have vastly improved over years.

injuries to the spine can be because of any road traffic accidents (RTA), falls, sports injuries like diving or any kind of violence

some common injuries of spine are

  1. whiplash injuries
  2. fractures
  3. subluxation

The next page further describes these injuries.

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