Anatomy of the Spine – A Lawyer’s Description of Spinal Anatomy
The spinal column, or backbone, consists of 33 bones (vertebrae) and can be divided into five segments: the cervical, the thoracic, the lumbar, the sacrum, and the coccyx (the tailbone). The cervical (neck), thoracic (midback) and lumbar (lower back) vertebrae are the uppermost 24 vertebrae and are separated from one another by fibrous cartilage pads, called intervertebral discs, which provide flexibility to the spine and act as shock absorbers during activity. In the lowest part of the spine, the vertebrae are naturally fused to form the sacrum and the coccyx (tailbone).
Protruding from the back of each vertebral body is an arch of bone that forms the large, vertical opening (the spinal canal) through which runs the spinal cord and nerve bundles. A fluid-filled protective membrane, the dura, covers the contents of the spinal canal from where the cord begins at the base of the skull to where it ends near the base of the spine.
A pair of spinal nerves branches at each vertebral level (one to the left and one to the right), providing sensation and movement to all parts of the body.
Three large, bony projections, or processes, arise from each vertebral arch – one to each side (transverse) and one straight toward the back of the body (spinous). Strong ligaments and muscles attached to the vertebra’s body and processes support the spine and further protect the delicate spinal cord and nerves encased within.
Spinal pain and symptoms that radiate from the spine to the arms and legs, among other symptoms, may occur when an intervertebral disc herniates. This happens when some of the disc’s jelly-like center (the nucleus pulposus) bulges or ruptures through its tough, fibrous outer ring (the annulus fibrosis) to press upon a nerve.
Other injuries to the spine can include injury to the spinal cord itself. Injury to the spinal cord can occur in cases of direct trauma to the cord (such as when there has been damage to the bones or disks of the spine) or indirectly as a consequence of injury to the surrounding tissues or blood vessels. Even minor injury can cause spinal cord trauma if the spine is weakened (such as from
rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis) or if the spinal canal protecting the spinal cord has become too narrow (spinal stenosis) due to the normal aging process.
The multitude and complexity of spinal injuries makes for difficult issues of proof in the medico-legal context. Effective presentation of a spinal injury requires a thorough knowledge of the condition, a familiarity with the physicians who are routinely paid by the insurance industry to testify that injured people are not injured, and an ability to present expert testimony in a clear, coherent, and persuasive manner.
The Erie spinal injury lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have experience with cases involving spinal injuries. Our primary goal and objective is to make sure that our clients and their families receive the compensation and resources they need to treat and manage their spine injury and to compensate them for their losses.
As skilled Erie personal injury lawyers who have helped injured clients and their families with spine injuries, we understand how to evaluate these cases and we know how to help you obtain the funds necessary to pay for medical care and surgery, if needed.
Call Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. today, toll free at 814-833-7100 to schedule your free and confidential consultation with an Erie Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer.
We will fight for your legal rights to the money and resources you need to fix what can be fixed, help what can be helped, and make up for what cannot be fixed or helped.