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There are two contrasting areas, the upper occipito-atlanto-axial joint complex, and the sub-axial spine.
- Upper occipito-atlanto-axial joint complex
- Multiple synovial joints with strong transverse and alar ligaments provide about half of total movements
- Movements: C0-1 - nutation, C1-2 - rotation
- Nerve roots: C1 nerve sits under the vertebral artery, C2 nerve root sits with veins.
- They are well preserved in older subjects
- Sub-axial spine; discs, and zygapophyseal joints.
- Uncovertebral clefts
- 45 degree facet joints, allows for flexion and extension but not much rotation
- Oblique, antero-lateral course of nerve roots
- Vertebral arteries in foramina transversaria.
- Small anterior muscles, large posterior muscles. Therefore vulnerable to extension trauma.