What Is the Cervical Spine?
The cervical spine, more commonly known as the neck, is at the top of the vertebral column, between the skull and the shoulders. Injuries to this area of the spine are relatively common and can arise from falls, sports injuries and car accidents.
Cervical Spine Anatomy
The cervical spine has seven vertebrae, numbered c1, at the base of the skull, to c7, above the shoulders. The first two vertebrae, c1 and c2, are known as the atlas and the axis, respectively. The nerve roots branching off of the spinal cord along the cervical spine serve:
- The head and neck
- The shoulders
- The diaphragm
- The arms
- The hands
Problems with vertebrae or nerve roots in the cervical spine may translate to problems with those parts of the body.
Cervical Spine Conditions
The cervical spine is the second-most injured region of the spine, behind the lumbar spine. Conditions of the cervical spine can include:
- Neck pain–generalized neck pain, with or without an identifiable cause
- Cervical compression fracture–cracks in a vertebra, often due to osteoporosis
- Cervical degenerative disc disease—The breakdown of intervertebral discs
- Cervical disc herniation—A bulging of the intervertebral discs that often presses painfully on the spinal cord or nerve roots, caused by the soft inner layer of the disc punching through the hard, outer layer
- Cervical radiculopathy—Pain that radiates from the neck to the arms or other areas of the upper body
- Whiplash–an injury caused by violent back-and-forth motion of the neck and head
Cervical Spine Procedures
At Edison Spine Center, we employ a variety of conservative and surgical treatment methods to manage neck pain and neck conditions. These can include:
- Corticosteroid injection—Injection of an anti-inflammatory medication into the lumbar spine to help relieve pain
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)–the removal of a cervical intervertebral disc and fusing vertebrae together to eliminate movement and pain. Surgeons access the affected vertebrae through the front of the body in this procedure.
- Posterior cervical discectomy and fusion–The same procedure as ACDF, except surgeons access the vertebrae through the rear of the body
- Cervical disc replacement–The removal of an intervertebral disc and replacement with an artificial disc
- Cervical laminectomy—The removal of the lamina (one of the vertebrae’s bony processes) to create more room in the spinal canal
- Cervical kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty–Procedures to bolster fractured or cracked vertebrae
- Cervical microdiscectomy—The removal of a piece of herniated disc compressing a nerve root
- Minimally invasive neck surgery—A variety of surgical procedures using small tools, small incisions and specialized cameras attached to video monitors
If you experience neck pain of any sort, request an appointment at Edison Spine Center. Our expert surgeons can diagnose the source of your neck pain and treat your condition in a way that works for you and your circumstances.