• Question: How does the vertebral column go through the inter-vertebral discs?

    Asked by Yuvi7 to Billy, Louise, Naomi, Rachel, Urvashi on 7 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Naomi Green

      Naomi Green answered on 7 Mar 2015:

      Hello, that is a good question! The spinal column is quite complicated and it is hard to explain without a picture so at the bottom of my answer is a link to some pictures but I will also try to explain.

      Your spinal column is made of vertebrae which are the bony parts of your spine, we have 33 of them! Between the vertebrae are your intervertebral discs, which are made of soft tissues which allow you to bend and move. The spinal cord passes through a hole in each vertebra but it does not pass through the intervertebral disc. It passes behind it instead.

      Do you have any other questions about the spine?


    • Photo: Louise France

      Louise France answered on 9 Mar 2015:

      Hi there!

      I think Naomi answered this really well! The spinal column is a very complex structure but is basically made up of 4 distinct parts : the vertebral bodies (the hard bony bits), the intervertebral discs (the squidgy bits that aren’t too dissimilar to jam donuts that sit between the vertebral bodies!!) , the spinal cord (containing all the nerves) and finally hard bony processes that allow the spinal column to slot together and articulate (move around)…these are the bits you can feel if you run your hand down the center of your back!

      It’s really important that the spinal cord runs through the special hole in the vertebral bodies, and does not touch the intervertebral disc. Have you heard of a prolapsed disc? These are really painful and is caused by the disc bulging out of shape under force (a bit like the jam oozing out of a donut when you squash it) and touching the spinal cord. This can be really painful and can even cause paralysis!

    • Photo: Rachel Pallan

      Rachel Pallan answered on 16 Mar 2015:

      I think the other engineers have answered this really well and as I don’t work on the spine I learnt something new too 😀