Full Vertebra and Spinal Cord (Cross-section View) Description
[Continued from above] . . . -or usually just the disk. These disks cushion the vertebrae during movement.
The entire spine encloses and protects the spinal cord, which is a column of nerve tracts running from every area of the body to the brain. The vertebrae are bound together by two long, thick ligaments running the entire length of the spine and by smaller ligaments between each pair of vertebrae. The anterior longitudinal ligament consists of strong, dense fibers, located inside the bodies of the vertebrae. They span nearly the whole length of the spine, beginning with the second vertebrae (or axis), and extending to the sacrum. The ligament is thicker in the middle (or thoracic region). Some of the shorter fibers are separated by circular openings, which allow for the passage of blood vessels. Several groups of muscles are also attached to the vertebrae, and these control movements of the spine as well as to support it.