Anatomy of Cervical Spine
Anatomy of cervical spine is discussed in this article, and I hope it helps the visitor of this website in fetching some information on this area of the spine.
There are total 7 cervical spine vertebrae and this part of the spine corresponds to the neck area. Letter C is used to designate these vertebrae (both upper and lower case letter); they are named from C1 to C7.
C1 or the first vertebra is called as Atlas. 2nd one is called as Axis. Rests of them do not have specific names. If remembering which one is 1st or 2nd is difficult for you then one trick is to remember letter t for top, atlas has t in it, so it is the top most vertebra or the 1st one.
There is a soft disc material in between majority of the vertebrae including the neck area except the 1st and 2nd one.
The vertebrae articulate or form joints at the intervertebral disc area (if they have it) and at the facet joints. Atlas and axis form additional atlantoaxial joint. Atlas forms joint with the lower area of skull bone too.
The space inside the spine is called a spinal canal. In general the diameter in the neck area is between 13 and 15 mm in the front to back direction and if it is usually less than 13 mm then it is called as cervical spinal stenosis.
There are ligaments to hold the vertebrae together and increase the stability of the spine.
Cervical spine, in addition to its role to house the spinal cord and protect it, also need to permit mobility so that neck can be moved in varieties of directions. The joints in this area enable this function.
The vertebral artery, an important artery supplying the brain passes through a hole in the transverse process of cervical vertebrae from c6 to c1 (artery goes upwards to the brain).
There are 8 pairs of spinal nerves emerging from the spinal cord in this area. They are generally designated from C1 to C8. The c1 exits the spine above the c1 vertebrae, so this trend continues until c7 vertebra where each spinal nerve corresponding to its vertebra exits above it and the c8 exits below c7 (since there are only 7 c vertebrae).
Neurologists, neurosurgeons and orthopedicians are some of the specialist doctors who involve in the management of cervical spine diseases.
For a Cervical Spine Diagram click on the link
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