The cervical spine

Wayne A. Mathews, Cesar S. Arguelles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


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 lb). 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 (atlas) “ring” rotates around the odontoid or “peg”of C2 (axis), 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCommon Musculoskeletal Problems
Subtitle of host publicationA Handbook, Second Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783319161570
ISBN (Print)9783319161563
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical spine
  • Curriculum
  • Facet joint
  • Hoffman’s sign
  • Ottawa neck rules
  • Physical exam
  • Primary care musculoskeletal conditions
  • Radicular symptoms
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spurling’s maneuver
  • Whiplash-associated syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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