Biomechanics and common mechanisms of injury of the cervical spine

James Dowdell, Jun Kim, Samuel Overley, Andrew Hecht

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The cervical spine functions to position the head while maintaining stability and protecting the spinal cord. The anatomy of the cervical spine dictates the amount of physiologic motion at each level. Knowledge of the normal biomechanical anatomy of the cervical spine is imperative to the understanding of the biomechanics of injury to the cervical spine. There are a variety of reproducible injury patterns based on the direction and magnitude of force applied to the cervical spine. Knowledge of these forces can allow an understanding of the mechanical and neurologic stability of the cervical spine and can also help guide treatment options. It is also important to understand the mechanism of injury and injured cervical structures based on radiographic findings, as often patients will present with neurologic examinations that also reflect noncervical spine-related injuries. The goal of this chapter is to present a review of the normal biomechanics of the cervical spine, in addition to presenting different injury patterns of the cervical spine from the minor to life-threatening, with the goal of maximizing postinjury function by ensuring proper treatment protocols are followed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152


  • SAC
  • SCI
  • biomechanics
  • cervical spine
  • injury patterns
  • mechanisms of injury
  • spinal cord


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