The neck is a critical component of the body, connecting the head to the torso. The neck has the essential responsibility of supporting the weight of the head and protecting the nerves transmitted by the spinal cord to allow for sensory and motor function. The neck is comprised of intricately assembled nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are collaboratively at risk for various painful conditions.
Contained within the neck is the cervical spine, the top of three spinal regions present in the human body. Protecting the spinal cord located within it, the cervical spine has seven vertebrae and extends from the base of the skull to the upper back, or the thoracic spine. While the cervical spine shares many commonalities with the other spinal regions, it also has features unique to its specific purpose. The most profound of these distinctions are the cervical spine’s mobility, the smaller size of its vertebrae and the presence of openings in each vertebral body that allow for the passage of blood from the heart to the brain through arteries. C1 and C2, also respectively known as the atlas and axis, are the top two of the cervical spine’s seven vertebrae, and are unique from other vertebrae in the cervical spine in that they’re specifically adapted to support the head and allow for a wider range of motion than the rest of the spine. Just as with the rest of the spine, the vertebrae located in the cervical spine are separated by intervertebral discs, which allows for range of movement and absorb shockwaves produced by normal activity.
For more information on neck treatment, try these top 5 stretches to relieve neck pain.