The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. The spine has a total of 33 vertebrae. They interlock, forming the spinal column, and consequently, protect the fragile spinal cord.
Each vertebrae bone has a body, an arch, and transverse processes. The body is the main portion that bears most of the load. The arch encircles the spinal cord, preventing outside forces from damaging it. The transverse processes are bony projections where ligaments and muscles attach to the spine.
Shock-absorbing intervertebral discs separate each vertebra. These discs prevent bone-on-bone contact and help absorb the forces placed on the body. The body of each vertebra attaches to these discs. The spine is a complicated structure that is often the root of back pain or neural pain issues. However, treatment options continue to improve for back injuries and conditions.