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In human anatomy, the vertebral column (backbone or spine) is a column usually consisting of 33 vertebrae, the sacrum, intervertebral discs, and the coccyx situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso, separated by spinal discs. It houses and protects the spinal cord in its spinal canal.

There are a total of 33 vertebrae in the vertebral column, if assuming 4 coccygeal vertebrae.

The individual vertebrae, named according to region and position, from superior to inferior, are:

  • Cervical: 7 vertebrae (C1–C7)
    • C1 is known as "atlas" and supports the head, C2 is known as "axis", C7 is known as "vertabra prominens"
    • Possesses bifid spinous processes, which is absent in C1 and C7
    • Only cervical vertebrae have transverse foramen
    • Small-bodied
  • Thoracic: 12 vertebrae (T1–T12)
    • Distinguished by the presence of costal facets for the articulation of the heads of ribs
    • Body is intermediate in size between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae
  • Lumbar: 5 vertebrae (L1–L5)
    • Has a large body
    • Does not have costal facets nor transverse process foramina
  • Sacral: 5 (fused) vertebrae (S1–S5)
  • Coccygeal: 4 (3–5) (fused) vertebrae (Tailbone)


The information contained above is for educational purposes only.  If you have
any questions relating to this or to any other orthopedic conditions, please consult
a board-certified orthopedic surgeon.

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