The two uppermost vertebrae, called the atlas and the axis, are designed to rotate in ways that the other parts of the spine cannot. Because of the atlas and the axis, human necks have a very wide range of motion. While this makes the cervical spine flexible, the area is also prone to damage from sudden movements, including whiplash-like injuries. In addition, limited muscle support puts the area at increased risk.
Outside of trauma, common conditions involving the cervical spine include infection, tumors, and arthritis. Another common issue is cervical kyphosis, which is when the vertebrae in this part of the spine curve the wrong way. Degenerative changes can also cause the spinal canal to narrow, putting pressure on the spinal cord. This condition is called cervical spinal stenosis.