Home > The Human Spine > Functions of the Spine

Functions of the Spine

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 19 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Strength; Support; Movement; Cell

The spine has many functions in providing humans with the ability to lead the lives they do.

Strength and Support

The spine provides strength and support for the remainder of the human body with particular attention to the heavy bones of the skull.

The thoracic region of the spine is particularly responsible for the task of offering strength and stability to the body. The lumbar region has the job of carrying most of the body’s weight and allows for movements of flexion but not rotation.

The spine and its curvaceous nature coupled with the array of muscles and tendons, provide our bodies with a method of being able to distribute our weight, and adapt to our changing bodies such as weight gain or pregnancy. During times of carrying extra weight the curves of the spine become more marked in order to for the body to balance by finding the centre of gravity and maintaining it. The presence of muscles, ligaments and tendons allow for this flexibility.

Movement

The intricate design of the spine and its accompanying structures of muscles, tendons, ligaments etc, permit the body to move in ways such as bending, stretching, rotating and leaning.

The cervical spine is responsible for allowing movement and rotation of the head and neck, due to the presence of the first two cervical vertebrae, the atlas and axis, a unique combination of bones.

Protection of Nerves

The spinal column provides reliable protection of the delicate nerves and the spinal cord, without which humans could not function, as certain nerve impulses control the functions of our major organs. The design and placement of the vertebrae and certain ligaments form a network of protection that keeps the spinal cord from getting injured.

Blood Supply

The vertebrae provide plenty of bone to produce red blood cells and minerals from within the hollow interior chamber of the bone, known as bone marrow. There are two types of bone marrow; red and yellow. Red bone marrow is responsible for the production of red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells, while yellow bone marrow contains high levels of fat cells and also produces some amounts of white blood cells.

Protection of Major Organs

The skeleton allows a base for the ribs to attach which surround and protect our major organs. The term ribcage is actually defined as being the sternum (breast bone), 12 pairs of ribs and the 12 thoracic vertebrae. All human ribs attach to the spine, but only the upper 7 pairs attach to the sternum. The ribs form the cage of protection around the heart and lungs.

Absorption of Impact

The spine provides a way of absorbing impact by containing intervertebral discs. These discs are situated between each vertebrae and as well as preventing the vertebrae from ‘bumping’ into each other, they contain a substance that absorbs forceful motion preventing the impact from being transferred to the next vertebra, much like a shock absorber.

Other Functions

The spine provides a means of connecting the upper and lower body via the sacrum which connects the spine to the pelvis.The coccyx does not have a useful function in modern mankind.

Newborn babies have fairly straight spines, and it isn't until they begin to hold the weight of their head independently, that the spine develops its characteristic curves.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • UKez
    Re: A Spinal Tap Caused My Back Pain
    Hi . I also had a spinal Tap to check the stages of a bleeiding in my brain. This has caused me serious back pain almost…
    3 July 2018
  • BackPainExpert
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    Alex - Your Question:I am a 27 yr old male who up until last year was working 84-108 hrs/week and always had back problems but all the doctors I…
    23 May 2018
  • Alex
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    I am a 27 yr old male who up until last year was working 84-108 hrs/week and always had back problems but all the doctors i had seen told me its…
    16 May 2018
  • Salsybar
    Re: Stem Cell Repair and Back Problems
    Hi I have annulus bulges at c4 -c5- c6 I have disc dessication,bulges , minmally prominent of the spinal cord t6-t7 t7-t8…
    9 May 2018
  • malky
    Re: Back Pain: Information for Employers
    I've enjoyed reading all your stuff and hope the stem cell injections come on to the market soon as I've been off work 5…
    8 May 2018
  • Shirley
    Re: A Spinal Tap Caused My Back Pain
    I had 2spinal taps when I was 16, I was fine all though my 20s n 30s but now I’m 51 with horrendous back n leg pain but the…
    23 April 2018
  • Jeeva
    Re: Spinal Dislocation
    My friend have pain in lumbar region. It cause breathing effects during sleeping.in MRI scan it shows that there is a dislocation in lumbar region
    17 April 2018
  • Agsmith78
    Re: A Spinal Tap Caused My Back Pain
    I had a spinal tap 3 years ago and still suffering from back, hip and left leg pain along with occasional weakness. Nothing…
    5 April 2018
  • Rubi
    Re: Stem Cell Repair and Back Problems
    What are the 2 basic functions of the spine?
    24 March 2018
  • Rubi
    Re: Stem Cell Repair and Back Problems
    please need help to finish my homework
    24 March 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the BackPainExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.