The cervical nerves are eight pairs of nerves that are part of the peripheral nervous system of the body. They emerge from the spinal cord through the seven cervical vertebrae. The cervical vertebrae are the spinal bones just below the skull. Below the cervical vertebrae are the thoracic vertebrae, which are attached to the ribs, so the cervical nerves are located between the ribs and the skull. The nerves emerge from the spine over the top of each vertebrae, except for the eighth, which comes out of the spine under the seventh cervical vertebrae. They connect the central nervous system to the body's limbs and organs. The first four cervical nerves split and combine again to make a series of nerves that govern the back of the head and the neck. The next four cervical nerves, together with the first thoracic nerve, form the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a very complicated structure, with nerves splitting and recombining to provide nerve functions to the muscles and skin of the hands, arms, shoulders, and chest.
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In Depth: Cervical nerves