The ligaments of the spine


The entirety of the ligaments of the spinal column is called the ligamentous apparatus. Due to the large number of vertebrae, there are numerous ligaments of the spine. The ligamentous apparatus has numerous tasks to perform, especially in the spinal column, since the body’s ability to move should under no circumstances be reduced.

These movements include rotation, lateral inclination in both directions and forward and backward inclination. At the same time, however, the ligamentous apparatus should also give the spinal column stability, enable it to stand upright and protect it from unnatural movements. In addition, the ligaments of the cervical spine, the coccyx and the rest of the spine must be distinguished. This is because in the head and neck area, further demands are placed on the ligamentous apparatus and in the area of the coccyx there is a very strong ligamentous apparatus which suppresses almost every movement.

An overview of the ligaments of the spine

A known part of the ligaments of the spinal column is the discus intervertebralis, the so-called intervertebral disc. This is located between all vertebral bodies and serves as a shock absorber between the individual vertebral bodies. The remaining ligamentous apparatus is divided into vertebral body ligaments and vertebral arch ligaments.

The division is based on the anatomical structure of the individual vertebrae. The vertebral arches connect to the back of the vertebral bodies and form a cavity with them that contains the spinal cord. At the vertebral arches there are two transverse processes and a spinous process that protrudes backwards.

There are two vertebral ligaments in total: the ligamentum longitudinale anterius (at the front of the vertebral body) and the ligamentum longitudinale posterius (at the back of the vertebral body). Roughly speaking, these run from the base of the skull to the coccyx and strengthen the spinal column at the front and back. The vertebral ligaments include the Ligamenta flava, the Ligamenta interspinalia, the Ligamentum supraspinale, the Ligamentum nuchae and the Ligamenta intertransversaria.

The ligamentous apparatus of the cervical spine also includes the posterior atlantooccipital membrane, the tectorial membrane, the crucifome atlantis ligament, the alaria ligamenti, the lateral atlantooccipital ligament and the apicis dentis ligament. However, these ligaments are all very complex. – Ligamenta flava: consist of elastic fibres and run between all vertebral arches; they represent the wall of the spinal canal

  • Ligamenta interspinalia: run between all spinous processes of the vertebral arches and connect them with each other
  • Ligamentum supraspinale: extends as a single band from the coccyx to the seventh cervical vertebra and from there passes into the Ligamentum nuchae
  • Ligamentum nuchae: represents a flowing, widened transition and ends at the back of the head
  • Ligamenta intertransversaria: run individually between the transverse processes of the vertebrae and stabilize the spinal column in the lateral direction and during rotation