Normal Spine Anatomy

The spine also called the back bone is designed to give us stability, smooth movement as well as providing a corridor of protection for the delicate spinal cord.

It is made up of bony segments called vertebra and fibrous tissue called inter vertebral discs.

The vertebra and discs form a column from your head to the pelvis giving symmetry and support to the body.

The spine can be divided in to 4 parts. The uppermost is the cervical region, consisting of 7 small vertebrae that form the neck. As we move down the body, the next 12 vertebrae make up the thoracic region or mid back from which the ribs are hinged.

The 5 lumbar vertebrae are the largest of the mobile vertebrae and supports 2/3 of the body’s weight.

The lowest region of the spine is the sacrum and coccyx. The sacrum is a triangular plate made up of five fused vertebral segments while the four coccyxes terminate the bony spine.

Vertebrae

A single vertebra is made up of two parts, the front portion is called the body, cylindrical in shape, and it is strong and stable.

The back portion of the vertebra is referred to as the vertebral or neural arch and is made up of many parts. The strong 2 pedicles join the vertebral arch to the front body.

The laminae forms the arch itself while the transverse process spread out from the side of the pedicles like wings to help anchor the vertebral arch to surrounding muscle.

The spinous process forms a steeple at the apex of the laminae, and is the part of our spine that is felt directly under the skin.

  • Laminae: The laminae of the vertebra can be described as a pair of flat arched bones that form a component of the vertebral arch.
  • Spinal canal: This canal is formed by the placement of single vertebral foramina one on top of the other to form a canal. The purpose of the canal is to create a bony casing from the head to the lower back through which the spinal cord passes.
  • Pars inter articularis: Known as the Pars, it is the part of the vertebral arch where the pedicle, transverse process and articular process transect.

Fibrous Tissue

Intervertebral Disc: The intervertebral disc sits between the weight bearing vertebral bodies, servicing the spine as shock absorbers.

The disc has fibrous outer rings called the annulus fibrosus with a watery jelly filled nucleus called the Nucleus Pulposus.

Spinal Cord

If you are having Day Surgery, remember the following:

  • Have someone available to take you home, you will not be able to drive for at least 24 hours
  • Do not drink or eat anything in the car on the trip home
  • The combination of anaesthesia, food, and car motion can quite often cause nausea or vomiting. After arriving home, wait until you are hungry before trying to eat.
  • Begin with a light meal and try to avoid greasy food for the first 24 hours
  • If you had surgery on an extremity (knee or hand), keep that extremity elevated and use ice as directed. This will help decrease swelling and pain
  • Take your pain medicine as directed. Begin the pain medicine as you start getting uncomfortable, but before you are in severe pain. If you wait to take your pain medication until the pain is severe, you will have more difficulty in controlling the pain

Facet Joints

Facet joints are the paired articular processes of the vertebral arch.

These synovial joints give the spine it’s flexibility by sliding on the articular processes of the vertebra below.