Joints of the Back



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FIG. 1-1 : COSTOVERTEBRAL JOINT (back to top)

The costovertebral joint occurs between the ribs and the vertebrae. It is a synovial plane joint. The costovertebral joint has 2 components that articulate with the vertebral column: the heads of the ribs and the costotransverse joint. The head of each rib articulates with the superior facet of the same vertebral body and the inferior facet of the superior vertebrae, along with the intervertebral disc that is in between. There are 2 ligaments that help connect and support this part of the joint, which are the radiate and intra-articular ligaments. The costotransverse joint is the articulation of the tubercle and the transverse process of the same vertebrae. The ligaments that strengthen this joint are the lateral and superior costotransverse ligaments.

FIG. 1-2 : ZYGAPOPHYSEAL JOINT (back to top)

The Zygapophyseal joints (facet joints) form the articulations between the inferior articular process of a vertebrae with the superior process of the adjacent vertebrae. These joints allow gliding movements between the vertebrae. The anterior longitudinal ligament runs along the anterolateral portions of the vertebral bodies and helps to prevent hyperextension. The posterior longitudinal ligament runs along the posterior aspect of the vertebral body and helps to prevent hyperflexion and herination of the intervertebral discs. The yellowish band of tissue that connects adjacent lamina is called the ligamenta flava. This ligament prevents separation of the lamina, which further protects the intervertebral discs.

FIG. 1-3 : INTERVERTEBRAL JOINT (back to top)

The intervertebral joint is formed by the intervertebral disc (IV) and the 2 adjacent vertebral bodies. These joints were designed to support the weight of the body. The purpose of the IV disc is to act as a shock absorber for the vertebral column. The IV disc is composed of the anulus fibrosus and the nucleus pulposus. The anulus fibrosus consists of a fibrocartilagous rings that sourround the nucleus. The nucleus pulposus is composed of a gelatin material and has a high water content.


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This page created by Don Martin, Elizabeth Taibe, Katie Jablonski. © 2003, Stephen P. Lahr
The text has been adapted from Grant's Dissector 12th edition, 1999 and Moore's Clinically Oriented Anatomy 4th edition, 1999.
Maintained by Stephen Lahr. Last updated: 3/27/03