Spinal Movement and Anatomy Center
The spinal column (vertebral column or backbone) provides both structural and nervous system support for your entire body. Made up of 34 bones, the spinal column holds the body upright, allows it to bend and twist with ease and provides a conduit for major nerves running from the brain to the tips of the toes—and everywhere in between. Here we explain the basics about spinal anatomy to help you understand your back or neck pain, the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, and 10 steps you can take today to help prevent a spine problem. The entire spinal column consists of 24 individual bones called vertebrae (singular vertebra), plus 2 sections of naturally fused vertebrae—the sacrum and the coccyx—located at the very bottom of the spine. When most people talk about the spinal column, they’re actually referring to the vertebral column: the 24 circular vertebrae that march down the middle of the back. A normal vertebral column creates a graceful, double-S curve when viewed from the side of the body.