Let’s go back to one of the most elementary elementary school lessons to explain, in a little more depth, how many vertebrae we have in the spinal column. This axis is an essential part of the body of vertebrate animals (including human beings) and is the basic criterion for classifying them as such.
- You can also read: The 17 parts of the human body.
How many vertebrae do we have in the spinal column?
The spinal column is the structure that enables movement and, in our species, that we remain upright . It is composed of smaller pieces called “vertebrae”, arranged in a descending row from the base of the skull to the pelvis, where it is supported. It is divided into sections, each with a specific type of vertebrae, involved in different functions. Thus, knowing how many vertebrae we have implies knowing their name and where they are located.
In short, the vertebrae are named according to the part of the spine in which they are located (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx)and they are assigned a number that goes in descending order, according to their position in said zone. For example, we can call the “1st cervical” simply “C1”; the same logic will be applied to the 4th lumbar, the 3rd sacral or the 9th thoracic, which will be L4, S3 and T9, respectively. In the case of coccygeal vertebrae, the abbreviation will be “Co”.
Adding all the vertebrae, the result is 33, which are distributed as follows: 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral and 4 coccygeal. However, when asked “How many vertebrae does the human body have ?
“there are those who count only 24, ignoring the sacral and coccygeal, alleging that when the bones have completely fused in adulthood, the sacrum and coccyx become differentiated parts of the other vertebrae. However, it is more correct to consider them together with the rest.
Image of the vertebrae that we have in the column. | Available at: answers.tips 1. Cervical vertebrae
As we said, there are a total of seven cervical vertebrae. Special mention deserve the first pair of them: C1 or “Atlas”
Its name is a reference to the titan of Greek mythology punished by Zeus to support on his head the entire weight of the Earth. Therefore, the C1 is attached to the base of the skull to support the weight of the head . C2 or “Axis”
Thanks to this piece, it is possible to articulate the rotation of the head to practically all sides, except to turn it completely backwards. In his case, the name comes from Latin and means ‘axis’ . As a curiosity, note that this vertebra is found only in the most evolved animal species: reptiles, birds, reptiles and mammals (fish and amphibians do not have this ability).
As for C3, it is linked to the well-being of the skin and all the bones, in addition to being a passageway for the endings that irrigate the face, teeth and ears. Regarding C4, C5 and C6, they are involved in the phonation function, since it is through these vertebrae that signals are sent to the larynx and vocal cords for the articulation of sounds. Finally, of how many vertebrae we have in the neck, C7 is the one that stands out the most and is responsible for the articulation of the upper limbs. 2. Thoracic vertebrae
They receive this name because they are located at the height of the rib cage, and because it is in these vertebrae where the ribs that protect the respiratory and digestive organs meet. Beyond this important role,they are articulated in such a way that they allow the upper body to be turned sideways .
Discomfort in any of the upper vertebrae (from T1 to T9 approximately) can cause respiratory or cardiac difficulties. On the other hand, conditions in the thoracic vertebrae from T9 to T12 are related to digestive discomfort, allergic reactions and pain in the lower body. 3. Lumbar vertebrae
In the lower part of the spine we have 5 lumbar vertebrae that act as the base of the trunk, allowing the entire upper body to settle. Thanks to the flexibility they provide, it is thanks to this quintet of vertebrae that we can flex the torso forward., although they limit movement much more when we arch our back backwards.
Now, unlike other parts of the spine, we can hardly turn the lumbar vertebrae sideways.
One of its defining characteristics is that the lumbar vertebrae subtly curve forward . Although this form is common in all human beings, there are cases in which this concave is abnormally more pronounced, a condition that receives the name of ‘lordosis’ and that can be corrected with exercises for this purpose.
Due to its proximity to the thoracic vertebrae involved in a good digestive process, the L1 and L2 also play a role in this regard, especially when it comes to gastrointestinal problems and stomach aches. By contrast,L3 is involved with the organs of the genital apparatus , while the sciatic nerve passes through L4, whose pinching produces very sharp pains that can spread to the legs. Finally, L5 has to do with the movement of the lower limbs and joints. 4. Sacrum and coccyx bone
By popular belief, some people, when they count how many vertebrae we have in the spine, leave out the sacrum and coccyx bones; however, it is a mistake not to include them , since both are studied together with the entire structure of the spine as part of it.
All the connections of the sexual apparatus circulate through the first 3 sacrals, while difficulties related to urinary infections, stone formation and intestinal transit intervene in the last two.
For its part, the coccyx is reminiscent of the tail possessed by the species from which the human being evolved .
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