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Synonyms: dorsum (Latin), human back
German: Rücken

1 Definition

The back is the rear surface of the torso, which is formed mainly by the vertebral column, the ribs and the muscles of the back.

2 Anatomy

Cranially, the back shares borders with the neck, laterally with the edge of the trapezius muscle, the extent of the shoulder blade and the lumbar region, and caudally with the tip of the coccyx, the gluteal muscles and the iliac crest.

2.1 Skeletal structure of the back

The skeletal structures of the back primarily refer to the vertebral column and to the ribs. The vertebral column of the back consists of 12 thoracic vertebrae (Th1-Th2) in a kyphosis, 5 lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5) in a lordosis, the sacrum, which consists of 5 vertebrae (S1-S5) fused together, and the coccyx, which consists of 3-5 fused vertebrae (Co1-CO3/4/5). The ribs, which in turn form the chest (thorax), origin in the twelve thoracic vertebrae.

2.2 Muscles of the back

The muscles of the back can be divided into autochtonous ("original") and "immigrated" secondary muscles:

2.2.1 Autochthonous muscles of the back

From evolutionary perspective, the autochtonous muscles of the back have developed where they are located in humans. Accordingly, they are innervated by the dorsal branches of the spinal nerves. They are enclosed by the thoracolumbar fascia.

A deep leaf of the autochtonous muscles of the back separates them from the ventro-lateral body wall. This leaf forms the lumbar aponeurosis, which serves as origin for the transverse abdominal muscle and the internal oblique abdominal muscle. The superficial leaf of the autochtonous muscles of the back is grown together with the spinous processes of the vertebrae and fixed to the iliac crest. Furthermore, it serves as origin for the serratus posterior inferior muscle and the latissimus dorsi muscle.

The primary task of the autochtonous muscles of the back is the extension and upkeeping of the vertebral column. Therefore, it often is denominated as the erector spinae muscle ("upkeeper of the spine").

2.2.2 Immigrated muscles of the back

From evolutionary perspective, the non-autochtonous, "immigrated" secondary muscles of the back consists of ventral muscles which have shifted to the dorsal side of the body in the course of phylolgenesis. So, in contrast to the autochtonous muscles of the back, the innervation is provided by the ventral branches of the spinal nerves.

2.3 Topography

The back can be divided into anatomical regions, the regiones dorsales (dorsal regions). They facilitate the description of the topography (location) of structures or pathological alterations of the back.

 Latin English
Regio vertebralis Vertebral region
   Pars cervicalis Cervical vertebral region
   Pars thoracalis Thoracic vertebral region
   Pars lumbalis Lumbar vertebral region
   Pars sacralis Region of the sacrum
Regiones paravertebrales Paravertebral regions
   Regio suprascapularis Suprascapular region
   Regio interscapularis Interscapular region
   Regio scapularis Scapular region
   Regio infrascapularis Infrascapular region
   Regio lumbalis Lumbar region

This page was last edited on 9 June 2017, at 09:26.

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