Most of the individual vertebrae are shaped somewhat like rings; the body, or thick portion of the ring, is located toward the front portion of the body. Between each of the separate vertebrae is a thick, fibrous disc of cartilage – called an intervertebral disc – that forms the principal joint between the bodies of adjoining vertebrae; however, the vertebrae also move with each other at several other joints.

Most vertebrae consist of a body, a large mass of solid bone that is the weight-bearing part of the vertebra. Extending backward on each side of the body is a thick pillar of bone, or pedicle. The pedicles and back of the body help to form a circular opening, the vertebral foramen, through which the spinal cord passes. Two plates of bone, known as the laminae, meet the pedicles and join with each other in an angle at the back of the vertebra to complete the circular opening

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