Joints and Movement of the Vertebral Column (Nursing)

by Darren Salmi, MD, MS

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    00:00 The vertebral column is made up of multiple bones rather than a single one, which is great, it gives us a lot of movement and flexibility.

    00:08 That means we have to have a lot of joints all along the way as well.

    00:12 And we already said that these intervertebral discs essentially act as joints because they do connect adjacent vertebral bodies.

    00:19 So we can consider that our intervertebral joint.

    00:23 It's not the typical joint you might think of in the sense that it's not very movable.

    00:28 It's a fibrocartilaginous joint or symphysis, which is really meant more for support than movement.

    00:37 If we look more posteriorly, we again see those flat surfaces we see a superior articular facet, and an inferior articular facet what we see is these two flat surfaces or facets will meet up with each other.

    00:54 The superior articular facet will line up perfectly with the inferior articular facet of the vertebra just above it.

    01:03 And that will allow some sort of gliding motion and have a little bit more movement that we have at the intervertebral joint.

    01:11 So the movements we can have are flexion when we bend forward, an extension when we bend backward.

    01:22 But because we have these facets as sort of plates, and they can only glide they kind of limit the degree of movement, which is good because we don't want to forget that we have the spinal cord in here and we don't want to bend too far because we'll start to damage the spinal cord inside the vertebral foramen.

    01:42 So those joints are also called facet joints or zygapophyseal joints if you really want to sound fancy.

    01:50 And they're more of what we would call a typical joint or a synovial joint that has a lot more movement.

    01:58 A typical synovial joint has a capsule.

    02:02 It has a cavity.

    02:04 And that cavity is filled with fluid, joint fluid or synovial fluid.

    02:10 Because this is a synovial joint, with repeated motion, it can develop arthritis just like any other joint.

    02:16 And that arthritis can lead to a lot of inflammation unfortunately, as things become inflamed, they swell.

    02:23 And as things swell, they compress on what's nearby.

    02:26 And again, we have to keep in mind we have spinal nerves nearby.

    02:29 So that can cause compression of spinal nerves.

    02:32 So what you might need to do is go into the joint space directly to provide an intra-articular injection to decrease the inflammation.

    02:45 And that's something that's typical of pretty much any synovial joint, this just happens to be the first example we've come across.

    02:54 So again, we have a lot of joints, which is great because joints mean we can move and we have a lot of movements we can carry out at the back.

    03:03 For example, moving our torso forward would be considered flexion.

    03:08 Moving it backwards, will be considered extension.

    03:13 And if we go around to a coronal point of view, we also have side to side movements, we would call lateral flexion and extension.

    03:23 If we look from a superior point of view, we can see that we can rotate to either side as well, we can rotate to the left, and we can rotate to the right.

    03:33 And we can do a combination of all of these at the same time.

    03:39 So the fact that we have multiple backbones, rather than a singular backbone is what allows for this wide range and combination of movements.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Joints and Movement of the Vertebral Column (Nursing) by Darren Salmi, MD, MS is from the course Anatomy of the Musculoskeletal System (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Gliding
    2. Flexion
    3. Extension
    4. Abduction
    1. Flexion
    2. Extension
    3. Lateral flexion
    4. Abduction
    5. Adduction

    Author of lecture Joints and Movement of the Vertebral Column (Nursing)

     Darren Salmi, MD, MS

    Darren Salmi, MD, MS

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