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What are the components of the cervical spine?

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Quick Answer

The components of the cervical spine are seven vertebrae that begin at the bottom of the skull and end at the upper back, says Spine-health. These vertebrae protect the spinal cord.

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Full Answer

The spinal cord is a complex of nerves that emerges from the brain and extends almost to the end of the lumbar spine in the small of the back, claims Spine-health. The cervical spine also supports the head and allows for its great range of movement. It works in conjunction with muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints to do this. The first two vertebrae in the cervical spine are responsible for the head's ability to move from side to side, or its rotation. Vertebrae C5 to C7 are responsible for the head's ability to move backwards and forwards.

The vertebrae in the cervical spine grow smaller the closer they are to the base of the skull, says Spine-Health. All of the cervical vertebrae are smaller than the vertebra in the upper and lower back.

The openings in the vertebrae of the cervical spine, called the vertebral foramen, allow arteries to pass and allow blood to flow to the brain, says Spine-health. These foramen are only found in the cervical spine. The first cervical vertebra, called C-1, is a ring that rotates around the second vertebra, called the odontoid.

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