Wikijunior:Human Body/Spinal Column
Can you live without a spinal column?
No, you can not live without a spinal column. It is made up of many vertebrae, which are special types of bones, arranged in a column, so it can also be referred as a vertebral column. In fact, to be a vertebrate, you must have a such a column from the spine in little fish to the huge vertebral column of a giraffe or a blue whale, the largest animal ever known to have lived. Without one, your body would be drastically different; for example, octopuses do not have one.
What does the spinal column look like?
Most people have the first understanding how it look by looking at fish, since the spine of a fish is its spinal column. In humans and other vertebrates (animals with a vertebral based skeleton) the column cannot be directly viewed from the outside in its totality, but it can be felt and sometimes visually noticeable under the skin on the back of the human torso. It because of this that we also use the word spine to dine any ridge formation. Just put your fingers along your back! If you look at a complete spine, it is a curved column composed of vertebrae.
What are the parts of the spinal column?
There are 33 vertebrae, divided into seven "cervical", or neck, vertebrae, twelve "dorsal", or mid-body, vertebrae, five "lumbar", or lower back, vertebrae, and five "sacral", even lower than lumbar, vertebrae, and finally four "coccygeal", or tail, vertebrae. The vertebrae of each are slightly different, but they all have the same basic parts.
What is the function of the spinal column?
The spinal column supports the most of the body and skull. It protects your nervous system, and deep inside in the vertebras' bone marrow it generates the components for your body's defence system and also a bundle of nerve fibres called "spinal cord". Without connecting to these nerve fibres, your brain can't tell that part of the body to move. That is why the spinal is so important!
How does the spinal column interact with other parts of the body?
Your spinal column is the principal part of you skeleton, it is connected with the lower tip of your skull and the nerves it supports connect to your brain, thus, connecting with all the other body parts, like a central switchboard. So, in general, the spine is kind of connected to all of your body! Allowing messages to flow and so you to move, bend, kneel, stand up, sit down and all kinds of other cool movements!
How can you keep your spinal column healthy?
The spine is in large part bone. If it is broken, you may not be able to move any part of your body lower than the point of breakage, since the bone protects the "spinal cord".