The cervical spine

 

Cervical Spine Anatomy

Image courtesy of Human-Anatomy.net

 

The cervical spine is made up of the first seven vertebrae or neck bones in the spine. It starts just below the skull and ends at the top of the thoracic spine. Each neck bone is represented by the letter “C” (for cervical) and a number. For example, the upper-most neck vertebra in the neck is C1 and the lowest is C7.

 

Between each vertebra in the cervical spine is a disc that consists of an outer covering, the annulus fibrosis, and an inner gel, the nucleus pulposis. These disks act as cushions or shock absorbers and also permit some movement between the vertebral bodies.

 

The nerves in each area of the spinal cord connect to specific areas of the body. The nerves of the cervical spine go to the upper torso (chest and arms.) The nerves carry sensory signals between the brain and the upper torso. Damage to the nerves, nerve roots, or spinal cord can lead to symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and weakness.

 

In addition, there are strong bands of fibers running up and down along the bones and are called longitudinal ligaments. The anterior longitudinal ligament runs along the front of the vertebral bodies and the posterior longitudinal ligament runs along the posterior of the vertebral bodies but in front of the spinal cord.