The backbone is also called the vertebral column. This structure consists of bones called the vertebrae. The human vertebral column contains 33 vertebrae divided into seven cervical, 12 thoracic, five lumbar, five sacral and four coccygeal vertebrae, according to Basic Human Anatomy.
The main functions of the vertebral column are to keep the spinal cord safe and support the weight of the body, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Between the vertebrae lie the intervertebral discs that act as cushions and absorb the shock on the vertebral column. The spinal canal, a cavity within each vertebra, runs along the vertebral column. This cavity encircles the spinal cord, a collection of nerve fibers that acts as a relay center between the rest of the body and the brain.