1. Both giraffes and humans have seven vertebrae in their necks.
  2. As babies, we have 33 vertebrae but as adults we end up with 26. What happens to the 9 remaining bones? Four of them will fuse to make our tailbone and five fuse to make the back of the pelvis.
  3. The spinal column has 3 very important functions – it supports the body’s weight, provides flexibility for movement, protects nerve roots and fibers and forms a protective surrounding for the spinal cord – the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
  4. The first set of vertebrae (the cervical vertebrae found in the neck) are also called the Atlas.
    Atlas is a character from Greek mythology who, after losing a fight, was turned to stone and had to carry the weight of the Earth and the Heavens on his shoulders. The cervical vertebrae were also given this name as they carry the weight of the head.
  5. The biggest cause of disability in the working population is attributed to spinal disorders.
  6. The spine contains over 120 muscles, 220 ligaments and over 100 joints.
  7. One quarter of the spine’s length is made up from cartilage.
  8. Since cartilage discs expand in the absence of gravity, astronauts returning from space may be 1.5 to 2 inches taller than when they left. Gravity’s effect on cartilage is also the cause of humans shrinking between a quarter of an inch and five inches every decade after the age of 40. It also means we are generally taller in the morning than at night because of the daily effect of gravity on the body.
  9. Four out of five adults will experience some type of back pain during their lifetime. Back pain is considered the second most common location of pain experienced – headaches are considered the first.
  10. The spine is so flexible it can bend far enough to form two thirds of a circle.
  11. The most common cause of spinal cord injuries is vehicle accidents.
  12. Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain experienced. This is because the lower back twists and bends more than any other part of the back and it also bears the weight of the upper body.
  13. Sometimes back pain can be caused by other ailments in the body. Pain experienced in the middle of the back, which becomes worse after eating, may be a sign you have a stomach ulcer. And if you experience an intermittent back pain that reaches your groin, it could indicate you have kidney stones.
  14. The spine is extremely strong – it can bear the pressure of hundreds of kilograms.