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The Various Roles of the Vertebrae

The vertebrae of the spine consist of a series of bones in the spinal column that articulate with each other to allow the spinal column to flex as well as providing it strength. Today we’re going to take a look at how some of these vertebrae differ.

We’ll begin with the cervical vertebrae, which are the ones located in the neck directly below the skull. These are considered to be the smallest of vertebrae and are easily identifiable by the presence of a hole or opening in the bone officially known as the foramen. This hole allows the vertebral veins and arteries to pass through.

The thoracic vertebrae make up the middle portion of the vertebral column and there are twelve of them in humans. The thoracic vertebrae differ in size depending on their location, becoming larger as they approach the vertebrae in the lumbar (lower back) area. These bones are distinguishable by the presence of facets (joints) on the sides that allow them to articulate with the ribs.

The lumbar vertebrae consist of just five vertebrae nestled between the pelvis and rib cage. These bones are the largest in the vertebral column and they are responsible for not only allowing movement but also bearing the weight of the body.

This update is brought to you by the Cantor Spine Institute, a minimally invasive spine surgery center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We utilize groundbreaking ultrasonic spine surgery techniques to treat a number of cervical and lumbar spine conditions including cervical disc herniation, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, spondylolisthesis, and more. For more information or to schedule a complimentary MRI review, please call 954-567-1332.

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