The Cervical Spine

  • James M. Daniels
  • Joel Kary


Figure 2.1 illustrates the surface anatomy of the cervical spine (C-spine). The C-spine consists of seven vertebrae (C1–C7) and supports the weight of the head (approximately 14 pounds). The first two vertebrae are called the axis and atlas, respectively, and do not have a disc between them, but are closely bound together by a complex of ligaments. The C1 (axis) “ring” rotates around the odontoid or “peg” of C2 (atlas), allowing for almost 50% of total cervical rotation. The spinal canal is housed within the cervical vertebrae and is widest between the C1 and C3 levels (A-P diameter 16–30 mm) and narrows as it progresses caudally (14–23 mm). When the neck is fully extended, this canal can narrow an additional 2–3 mm.


Cervical Spine Nerve Root Neck Pain Motor Neuron Disease Cervical Myelopathy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family and Community Medicine, SIU Primary Care Sports Medicine FellowshipSIU School of MedicineQuincyUSA

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