What are cervical vertebrae? Know the importance and types

cervical vertebrae
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The cervical vertebrae are vertebral bodies made up of seven cylindrical bones. It is a posterior view of the cervical spine. Our neck is also known as the cervical spine. It is a series of bones, muscles, discs, and ligaments. It consists of seven bones that are known as vertebrae. It is configured to allow maximum skull movement and protect the spinal cord and nerves.

The cervical vertebrae have two parts.

  1. Atypical vertebrae
  2. Typical vertebrae

What are atypical vertebrae?

It is a cervical level, and its symbols are C1 and C2. Level C1 denotes the atlas, and it helps to hold the weight of the skull. C2 represents the axis, allowing rotation to happen in the spine. The c1 and c2 are small and plane vertebrae. The structure of c1 is the flat and ring-type shape of the vertebra. Its flat area side surface supports the skull. Often the extension and flexibility occur between the atlas and skull. We already know that level two(C2) is the axis. This bony odontoid process goes through the ring-like structure of atlas vertebrae and makes the atlantoaxial joint. Where about 50% to 60% of cervical rotation happens. Tiny ligaments connect the odontoid to the atlas.

cervical vertebrae
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Typical cervical vertebrae 

As we know, vertebrae consist of 7 bones. So, from level three to level six are typical cervical vertebrae, and their functions and shape are similar. Every vertebra has an arch, facet joint, and vertebrae body. The intervertebral disc joint with the vertebral body. The structure of every arch vertebra consists of two laminae and pedicles. The arch makes a ringbone and does not help to save the spinal cards. The facet joint gives every cervical vertebra articulation point. The last level of the cervical vertebra is different from these six vertebrae. This bone has more surface area on the body to join the thoracic vertebra.

The function of cervical vertebrae

The main function of the cervical vertebrae is that it protects the spinal cord. One more critical function of vertebrae is to save the blood vessels, and it helps to provide brain circulation. Each cervical vertebra has a hole on each side, and with the help of that hole vertebral basilar artery, this vital blood vessel is protected by bony vertebrae. This problem can be solved by using radiographs or X-rays.

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Why are cervical vertebrae important?

Fracture to the vertebrae is not common, but it is possible during an accident. A cervical vertebrae injury causes you either paralysis or death. If you are so fortunate, then there will be nothing to happen to you, but in most cases, we have seen that the person suffers from paralysis or death. Most often, injuries occur in the C2, C4, and C5. Generally, the neck gets immobilized from the brace when the accident happens and prevents further damage. In studies, it is found that unstable injury is not a common phenomenon. Another problem of cervical vertebrae is degenerative changes which include intervertebral disk and osteophyte formations.

Associated conditions of cervical vertebrae

As we know that the cervical vertebrae are protected by blood vessels and the spinal cord. Which also allows a little bit of movement to occur. But it is also the subject of some injury in your neck. Like, Cervical stenosis, cervical arthritis, herniated disc, cervical vertebra fracture, and degenerative disk disease. So, these are some risks with this process. And you may find some muscle tightness around the neck and shoulders. So, if you face some problems with your neck while moving heads, please a physio. They will help you with your problem to solve it. If you have a problem with your neck while moving zigzag, arm pain coming from the neck may be healed with a physical therapist to free mobility. 

cervical vertebrae
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Different treatments for the neck include

  1. Exercise 
  2. Postural instruction
  3. Heat
  4. Cervical traction 
  5. Massage 
  6. Electrical stimulation 

Are there 7 or 8 cervical vertebrae?

Many confusion spread about the actual number of bones in cervical vertebrae. So let me be clear that there are seven cervical vertebrae and eight cervical nerves. From the C1 – C7 nerve exit level, where’s the C8 nerve exit below. C7. It exists between the thoracic vertebra and C7.

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What causes cervical vertebrae pain?

Today we will talk about the cause of cervical vertebrae pain. If you cannot take proper treatment, neck pain takes a long time to recover. Some common causes like mental and physical stress, strain, poor posture, tumors, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, pinched nerve, etc.

Nerves and vertebrae 

Vertebrae help to make up the spine. It is the smallest one among the spinal columns. The bones help structure the skull, give the neck structure, help protect the spinal cord, and perform many other functions. The shape of the vertebra is like a Mardi gras. A protrusion is situated in the backside of the skull is known as the spinous process. It is the place where ligaments and muscles meet a vertebra. The vertebra is connected to the body to one. Many ligaments help protect against the excessive movement, and maybe they damage the spinal column. 

cervical vertebrae
Pic credit- cureus.com

The seven cervical vertebrae are extended the next, which is very flexible. But some vertebra has some specific function like,

  • C1 is the first vertebra closest to the skull, known as the atlas. It helps to joint the spinal column and head.
  • C2 – is the second level of the vertebra and known as the axis. It helps in the rotation of the neck.
  • C7 -It is the last level in the cervical vertebrae. It is neither part of typical vertebrae nor Typical vertebrae. It is the last one to help prevent through the skin at the backside of the neck.

If you are suffering from a fracture, it is necessary to go to the doctor for treatment. But if your cervical vertebrae got damaged during the fracture, it is a critical condition. Nowadays, it is compulsory to use a helmet while driving because the injury to your head is such a critical situation. It which your brain fails to work. So, during the accident, if your C2 vertebrae meet an injury or fracture, it will cause you to take you in trauma or cause death.

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