Spine examination © joint-surgeon
As the uppermost part of the spine, the cervical spine supports the head. It has a total of seven cervical vertebrae (C1 to C7). The first cervical vertebra (atlas) is situated directly below the foramen magnum (large opening), an opening through which the spinal cord passes into the vertebral canal. The second cervical vertebra (axis) is responsible for skull rotation. It has a tooth-like structure (dens axis) which the atlas rests on. The main purpose of the cervical spine is to stabilise and move the head and protect the spinal cord.
Cervical spine pain or injuries are therefore serious events which should be examined by a specialist.
Pain in the back, neck or arm can be signs of cervical spine syndrome, or C-spine syndrome for short. A distinction is usually made between acute cervical spine syndromes and chronic cervical spine syndromes. Acute cervical spine syndromes are typically caused by injuries caused by sudden overstraining. This includes e.g. injury to the cervical spine in traffic accidents, the so-called whiplash injury of the cervical spine. However, acute cervical spine syndromes can also arise due to unusual strain from heavy physical activity or by exposure to draughts. Another trigger for pain in the cervical spine is acute spinal disc herniation (disc prolapse), where the inside of the disc emerges from the nucleus and compresses the spinal cord nerves.