The Vertebral Column (Spinal Column) supports the head and encloses the spinal cord.
The spinal column is comprised of 26 individual bones, these bones are referred to as vertebrae. The spinal column is divided into 5 different areas containing groups of vertebrae and are grouped as follows:
7 cervical vertebrae in the neck.
12 thoracic vertebrae in the upper back corresponding to each pair of ribs.
5 lumbar vertebrae in the lower back.
5 sacral vertebrae which are fused together to form 1 bone called the sacrum.
4 coccygeal vertebrae that are fused together to form the coccyx or tailbone.
The vertebrae are referred to by their name and number, counting down from the top of the spinal column as follows:
The cervical vertebrae are C1 – C7
The thoracic vertebrae are T1 –T12
The lumbar vertebrae are L1 – L5
The sacrum and coccyx do not have numbers and each is thought of as one bone. Spinal nerves exit the sacrum and coccyx at levels (Foramen) within the main structure of each vertebra.