The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae and is located at the base of the skull. Its function is to support the skull, enabling head movements back and forth, and from side to side, as well as protecting the spinal cord. The upper section of the cervical spine consists of the first cervical vertebrae (C1) and the second cervical vertebrae (C2). The lower section consists of the third cervical vertebrae (C3) through seventh cervical vertebrae (C7). These spinal bones attach to the thoracic spine and work together to support the head.
The seventh cervical vertebra (C7) is the last bone in this group, and is characterized by a slightly longer spinous process than the other cervical vertebrae. The spinous process is a projection where muscles and ligaments are attached. Tendons, muscles, and ligaments work in tandem to provide balance and to enable movement, whilst preventing excessive movement resulting in injury.
The cervical spine is particularly prone to whiplash (injury caused by sudden jerking). Symptoms from cervical whiplash may be mild, such as reduced neck movements. Or they may be indicative of serious damage to the spinal cord if symptoms include leg weakness or inability to move the neck.