UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Joints and Ligaments of the Back

Gross Anatomy


Joints and Ligaments of the Back Region - Listed Alphabetically

Joint or ligament Description Notes
anterior longitudinal ligament a ligament that courses from superior to inferior along the anterior surfaces of all vertebral bodies it lies directly posterior to the thoracic and abdominal viscera
interspinous ligament a ligament that connects the spinous processes of two adjacent vertebra a syndesmosis
intervertebral disc a fibrocartilaginous disk between adjacent vertebral bodies a symphysis; it is composed of two parts: an outer anulus fibrosus and an inner nucleus pulposus; the nucleus pulposus is the remnant of the notochord; the intervertebral disks are important shock absorbers between vertebrae
ligamenta flava a ligament formed predominantly by elastic fibers which joins the laminae of adjacent vertebrae a syndesmosis; paired; the ligamentum flavum is penetrated by the needle during spinal tap; the word flavum is derived from the Latin word flavus, which means "yellow" - a reference to the predominance of yellow elastic fibers which gives this ligament its grossly visible color
nuchal ligament a midline ligament that extends posteriorly from the spinous processes of cervical vertebrae and extends from the base of the skull to the 7th cervical vertebra a syndesmosis; it provides muscle attachments to the cervical spinous processes without the necessity of long spinous processes that would hinder extension of the neck
posterior longitudinal ligament a ligament that courses from superior to inferior along the posterior surfaces of all vertebral bodies it is broader at the intervertebral disks and narrow at the vertebral bodies which gives it a scalloped edge; it is located in the vertebral canal; it is NOT penetrated by the needle during spinal tap
supraspinous ligament a ligament that connects the tips of the spinous processes of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae a syndesmosis; the supraspinous ligament begins at the C7 vertebra and ends at the mid-sacral segmental level; it serves as a muscle attachment site
zygapophyseal joint a small joint between the articular processes of adjacent vertebrae a synovial plane joint


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.




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