A vertebra is one of the bony structures that comprise the spine. Most people have 33 vertebrae, including the top 24 that are articulating (separate and movable), as well as the five fused vertebrae at the end of the spine (composing the sacrum), and the four fused vertebrae that form the tailbone.
The 24 articulating vertebrae in the neck, middle back, and lower back are separated by soft intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers. Each vertebra is responsible for protecting the portion of the spinal cord that it surrounds. The vertebrae are also connected by a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and joints that allow the back and neck to support the body and move in a variety of ways.
A number of spinal conditions can occur if a vertebra is damaged due to traumatic injury or if it has begun to deteriorate because of the natural aging process. Among the most common spinal conditions affecting the vertebrae are:
Most of the conditions that affect the vertebrae can be treated through conservative means, such as pain medication and physical therapy. Those who find little relief from the non-invasive treatments prescribed by their doctor may want to consider the endoscopic procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us to learn about our safe and effective procedures and how they can be used to treat spinal conditions that can affect a vertebra, disc, or ligament in the neck or back.
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