Anatomy 101: the upper cervical spine

"The anatomy of the high cervical spine is unique and, to some degree, more complicated to assess than the rest of the vertebral column. The shape of the bones and their articulations are distinctly different between the occiput and atlas, atlas and axis, and axis and C3. Such a marked change in anatomy does not occur in such close proximity anywhere else in the vertebral column" (Edwards, 1992, pp. 42-43).

Due to the close proximity of this region of the spine, careful consideration must be made when understanding which level is being loaded under pressure, and what sensitising movements can be applied to differentiate between intra-articular and periarticular restrictions to movement. This blog explores the key features of clinical anatomy and offers tips for structural differentiation with palpation.

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