The spinal cord is a major part of the central nervous system which comprises tubular nerve bundle while the vertebral column is a bony, segmented structure which supports head and thorax. The spinal cord runs inside the vertebral column, and vertebral column protects the spinal cord. This is the key difference between spinal cord and vertebral column.
Spinal cord and vertebral column are two vital structures of humans. They run together from head to abdomen but work independently.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Spinal Cord
3. What is Vertebral Column
4. Similarities Between Spinal Cord and Vertebral Column
5. Side by Side Comparison – Spinal Cord vs Vertebral Column in Tabular Form
What is Spinal Cord?
The spinal cord is a major part of the central nervous system. It is approximately 17 inches long and extends from the brain stem. It is a bundle of nerves composed of 31 nerve pairs. There are 8 cervical nerve pairs, 12 thoracic nerve pairs, 5 lumbar nerve pairs, 5 sacral nerve pairs and 1 coccyx nerve pair in it.
The spinal cord runs inside the vertebral column, which protects it. Three membrane layers called meninges surround and protect it. Its main function is to connect information of the brain with the peripheral nervous system.
What is Vertebral Column?
The vertebral column is the bony segmented structure that protects the spinal cord and supports the thorax and head. One segment of the vertebral column is known as the vertebra (plural vertebrae). Based on the location of the vertebrae, their names differ as cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx.
Human has 33 vertebrae during the birth. But an adult has 26 vertebrae. The neck region has 7 cervical vertebrae. The very first cervical vertebra is the Atlas vertebra. It allows the “yes” motion of the head. The second topmost vertebra is the Axis vertebra, and it is responsible for the “no” motion of the head. There are 12 also thoracic vertebrae (T1 – T12). All ribs are attached to the thoracic vertebrae. Furthermore, there are 5 lumbar vertebrae which support the lower back of the body. They are the thickest vertebrae in the vertebral column. There is one sacrum composed of five fused sacral vertebrae. The last is the coccyx vertebra. Four fused coccygeal vertebrae form the coccyx.
What are the Similarities Between Spinal Cord and Vertebral Column?
- Both of these structures run together.
- They both are in the similar name category.
What is the Difference Between Spinal Cord and Vertebral Column?
Spinal Cord and Vertebral Column
|Spinal cord refers to long thin tubular bundles of nerves and supportive cells||Vertebral column refers to the bony segmented structure composed of groups of vertebrae|
|Main Tissue System|
|A part of central nervous system||A part of the human skeleton|
|Connects information of the brain to the peripheral nervous system||Protects the spinal cord, provides attachment sites for the ribs, back and neck muscles and transmits weight of the trunk to the lower limbs|
|Composed of 31 pairs of nerves||Composed of 26 vertebrae|
Summary – Spinal Cord vs Vertebral Column
The spinal cord is long, thin tubular bundles of nerves composed of 31 pairs. It runs inside the vertebral column, a bony structure with 26 vertebrae. The latter protects the spinal cord and provides attachment sites for ribs and neck muscles. The spinal cord passes information from the brain to peripheral nervous system. This is the difference between spinal cord and vertebral column.
1. “Blausen 0822 SpinalCord” By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “715 Vertebral Column” By OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. Jun 19, 2013. (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia