Let's learn more about the cervical spine!

Do you want to learn more about the spine?

I had a lot of fun yesterday coming up with fun spine facts, so I thought I would do a few more segments where I teach you about the different regions in your spine. Today, we'll be talking about the cervical spine. If you read Monday's blog, you'll know that means we're going to be talking about the neck! 


The green line is showing the normal cervical curve.

The green line is showing the normal cervical curve.

#1. The bones in your neck create a curve!

This curve is so important. It acts a shock absorber for your head! As your neck straightens out and you begin to lose this curve, your head will shift forward. For every inch that your head slips out of proper alignment, it adds 10 pounds of weight from your head onto your spine, (from about 16 lbs to 26 lbs)! The curve can be lost as a result of a variety of injuries like whiplash, car accidents, but it can also be lost as a result of poor posture and the onset of osteoarthritis. We call it a lordotic curve, meaning the curve goes towards the front of the body. As chiropractors, we generally all agree it's one of the body's most important structures. Here's what the neck looks like without a curve:

Notice how the space between the bones is so much bigger too!

Notice how the space between the bones is so much bigger too!


#2. Did you know you're born without a curve in your neck?

In fact, we're born without any lordotic, or forward leaning curves. They develop as we develop. The cervical curve comes from tummy time as an infant and learning to lift up your head so that you can see. Tummy time is one of the most important parts of early childhood development. In addition to developing a normal cervical curve, it also does helps the brain with sensory integration, builds muscle and core strength, and helps prevent baby from having as much gas.

tummy-time-infographic.jpg

#3. All of the nerves that control your arms come from just the bottom half of your neck!

We know from the blog post on Monday that the nerves that control the whole body come from the 31 pair of spinal nerves that come off of the spinal cord. Well, the cervical spine has 8 pair of spinal nerves, and the nerves that control both arms, (shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands), all are formed from just the bottom four pair of nerves! How wild that one little area, only a few inches long, could control the entirety of your upper limbs! Often times, people with numbness, tingling and pain in their arms, elbows, wrists or hands can actually have an issue with alignment in the cervical spine. Sometimes, even misdiagnosed cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be fixed with a series of neck adjustments. 

The nerves that come out of the spinal cord from the levels of C5-T1 form the brachial plexus which innervates the entirety of the upper extremities. 

The nerves that come out of the spinal cord from the levels of C5-T1 form the brachial plexus which innervates the entirety of the upper extremities. 


Well, that's it on the neck today. I'm sure that I'll have more fun facts for you as we move along. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Yours in health,

Dr. William