Your neck is part of a long flexible column, known as the spinal column or backbone, which extends through most of your body. The cervical spine (neck region) consists of seven bones (C1-C7 vertebrae), which are separated from one another by intervertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity. The Cervical spine or Cervical vertebrae (neck) lead to many painful disease like, Cervical degenerative disc disease, Cervical herniated disc, Cervical stenosis, Osteoarthritis and stiff neck etc.
Attached to the back of each vertebral body is an arch of bone that forms a continuous hollow longitudinal space, which runs the whole length of your back. This space, called the spinal canal, is the area through which the spinal cord and nerve bundles pass. The spinal cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and surrounded by three protective layers called the meninges.
At every vertebral level, a pair of spinal nerves exit through small openings called foramina (one to the left and one to the right). These nerves serve the muscles, skin and tissues of the body and thus provide sensation and movement to all parts of the body. The delicate spinal cord and nerves are further supported by strong muscles and ligaments that are attached to the vertebrae.
Generally, the anatomy of the cervical spine permits quite a range of flexibility and motion under normal circumstances; however it also allows a vulnerability to a number of physical forces. We often subject our cervical spines to unusual positions while sitting, driving and using the phone or computer. The cervical spine is especially vulnerable during traumatic injuries. This high level of mobility also encourages premature degenerative changes due to abuse and overuse. Certain problems are minor and short-lived, others more disabling, persistent, and threatening. Almost everyone suffers from some form of neck discomfort on occasion.
The first cervical vertebra is unique in that it is a ring that rotates around the second vertebral body. The cervical vertebrae closest to the skull are the smallest. All of the cervical vertebrae are smaller than the vertebrae in the thoracic spine (upper back) and the lumbar spine (lower back).
In contact sports, one of the most challenging tasks of the team physician involves the intervention and decision-making processes related to cervical spine (C-spine) injuries. The team physician must be well preparing in the anticipation, evaluation, stabilization, and treatment of C-spine injuries. Must understanding of cervical alignment and architecture, as well as command of the mechanics exerted during a sporting event, are crucial to diagnosing cervical injuries. Most cervical spine fractures happen largely at 2 levels. One third of injuries occur at the level of C2, and one half of injuries occur at the stage of C6 or C7. Most fatal cervical spine injuries occur in upper cervical levels, either at cervical junction C1 or C2.