Anatomy of the cervical vertebrae

The cervical vertebrae comprise the section of the spine that supports the skull at the top of the spinal column, called the cervical region. Each cervical vertebra is distinct from the rest of the spine, specifically in shape and function, and slightly varies from one another.

The neck’s mobility is supported by the shape of each cervical vertebra and the way the cervical vertebrae fit and work together. If you are dealing with neck pain or a related condition, learning about the anatomy of the cervical vertebrae can help you be a more confident and educated patient as you seek lasting relief.

How cervical vertebrae are different from other sections

The cervical spine is so flexible because it must allow for the bending of the neck and rotation of the head. This is why, in addition to the flexible lumbar (lower) spinal region, so many conditions develop in this part of the spine.

Within each spinal section, the vertebrae are labeled to indicate in which section a particular vertebra exists and where in the sequence it falls. The seven cervical vertebrae are labeled C1 to C7 from top to bottom. So the cervical vertebra at the top of the spine, closest to the skull, is identified as C1 to demonstrate that it is the first vertebra in the cervical spine.

Problems that can affect a cervical vertebra and treatment options

Spinal discs and facet joints exist between the cervical vertebrae to link them, provide shock absorption and prevent the cervical vertebrae from grinding against another one. Because of the greater range of motion needed by the cervical spine, these discs and joints are particularly susceptible to age-related degeneration as well as injury. Thus, conditions such as arthritis, herniated discs, bulging discs and degenerative disc disease may develop and cause pain, reduced mobility and numbness or weakness in the extremities.

If you develop a painful condition in the cervical spine that does not respond to conservative treatments like medication and physical therapy, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive outpatient procedures to help treat the pain caused by wear or injury to the discs between the cervical vertebrae without the larger incision and higher risk of complication associated with traditional open spine surgery.^

Request a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.