As the name suggests, cervical spine anatomy refers to the anatomy of spinal region close to the neck. This region comprises of cervical vertebrae which has a total of seven vertebral bones, nervous and blood supply system around it and all supporting tissues involved. The vertebral column protects the spinal cord while the nervous and blood supply system keeps the region well innervated and nourished. Supporting tissues, majorly the ligaments, strength joints around the cervical spine as well as limiting the degree of movement involved.
The Vertebral Column of the Cervical Spine Anatomy
The cervical spine has a series of vertebral bones which protect the spinal cord. It has a total of seven vertebral bones labeled from C1 to C7. This bones are well specialized for muscle attachment through transverse processes, anterior and posterior articulation through facets and vasculature supply through various foramens.
This column is divided into two sections, the upper cervical region and the lower cervical region. The vertebral bones within this two regions are very distinct because they are have specialized for different functions. The upper region is comprised of C1 and C2 which are the atlas bone and the axis bone respectively. The atlas bone is circular in shape and has a wide vertebral canal with no vertebral body. It articulates with the occipital region of the skull to the anterior forming atlanto- occipito joint. This joint is responsible for rotations if the head and its the joint that permits one to make a head shake as a sigh of disapproval.
To the posterior, the atlas bone articulates with axis bone forming the atlanto axial joint which permits neck flexion. This is the joint that enables one to make a nod as a sign of approval to a given issue. The axis bone is specifically adapted to form a tight articulation through its unique odontoid process which fits into the vertebral canal of the atlas bone. Embryologists claim that the odontoid process is actually derived from the body of the atlas bone and there seems to be solid proof to this allegation through examination of the two bones in developing fetus.
The other parts forming the cervical spine anatomy
The rest of the vertebral column has uniform verbal bones with basic characteristics such as wide transverse processes for muscle attachment, wide vertebral column to accommodate the spinal cord and foramens for passage of blood vessels. They are labeled from C3 through C7.
In between every vertebral bone there is an interverterbral bone that facilitates the sliding movement on of the vertebral bones against each other. They also stabilize the vertebral column as well as improving the weight bearing capacity of the vertebral column.
Stabilizing Structures Associated With Cervical Spine Anatomy
Ligaments are the major structures responsible for stabilizing the cervical spine. These ligaments are grouped into two broad categories which are the anterior ligaments and the posterior ligaments. Some of these ligaments which are involved with stabilization of these joints include the longitudinal ligaments, the transverse ligaments and the alar ligaments. A minor group of ligaments is also involved which includes the supraspinous ligaments and intraspinious ligaments. Tectorial membrane, which is an extension of the longitudinal ligament, is also involved in the stabilization of the joints around the cervical spine. The study of cervical spine anatomy focuses on the particular bones of the vertebrae and their functions.