Sometimes referred to as the sacral spine, the sacrum is a bone found that the base of the spinal column. Composed of five different vertebrae that are fused to form a triangular or wedge shape, the sacral bone is also sometimes known as the cross bone. When reference is made to the five vertebrae collectively, the term sacrum is used. However, when referring to any one of the five, it is more common to refer to the sacral vertebrae.
The name for this collection of vertebrae comes from the Latin word sacer, which is translated to mean sacred or strong. The name for the bone is indicative of the belief that the sacrum serves as the cushion or seat for the reproductive organs in both men and women. As such, the bone structure has been considered to be of especial significance in many cultures.
In position, the sacrum serves as the point of connection between several different bones in the middle section of the body. The top portion of the sacral bone joins with the last of the lumbar vertebra. On the left and rights sides, this bone connects with the hipbones. At the base, the sacrum joins with the coccyx or tailbone.
There are some structural differences in how these five vertebrae develop in each gender. Women usually have a sacral area that is shorter and somewhat broader in configuration than that of the male. There is usually more curve with the upper section than the lower. The general effect is that the female sacrum tends to produce a larger pelvic cavity, which tends to provide the female hips with more curves.
By contrast, the male sacral area usually has an equal amount of curvature on both the bottom and top sections of the bone. This produces an effect where the male pelvic cavity is somewhat more oval in design than the female counterpart. As a result of the uniform curve, the hips of the male tend to be less prominent in comparison to the rest of the middle section of the body.
As with many bones in the body, a sacral fracture can be extremely painful. Setting the sacrum properly is essential to the healing process. Often, a cast may be used to help hold the broken sections in position so the body can begin to mend the fracture. Recovery from a sacrum fracture varies, depending on the extent of the fracture, the age and general health of the individual, and the ability of the individual to remain more or less bedridden during the healing period.