The spinal vertebrae are separated from each other by intervertebral discs. These discs are made of collagen fibers and cartilage. They provide padding and shock absorption for the vertebrae. Each pair of vertebrae creates a movable unit.
The spinal cord runs within the vertebral canal formed by the back parts of the vertebrae. Thirty one pairs of nerves branch out from the spinal cord through the vertebrae, carrying messages between the brain and every part of the body.
Aging, diseases, accidents and muscular imbalances can cause compression and thinning of the intervertebral discs. This results in pressure on the spinal nerves and wear on the bony vertebrae, conditions that are common sources of back pain.Also see: Pilates and Back Pain
Details on the Vertebrae