Everything You Should Know About Neck Anatomy

Everything You Should Know About Neck Anatomy

The neck has several muscles for structure and support. Neck muscles facilitate yawning, swallowing, speaking and also helps us move our head around. The muscles in our head are reliable and always ready to perform during running, walking or exercising. 

But these muscles are also vulnerable to damage in case we undergo an accident or experience a fall. In a few instances, neck injuries also occur due to repetitive use or when playing contact sports.

Woman Wearing Collar

Here is a list of the muscles and bones that make up our neck.


  • Longus Colli: Starts between the third and sixth vertebrae and allows flexion of the neck and head
  • Longus Capitis: Starts between the third and sixth vertebrae and is accountable for flexion of the neck
  • Rectus Capitis Anterior: Starts at the first vertebrae and supports flexion of the neck
  • Rectus Capitis Lateralis: Initiates from the first vertebrae and lets the neck bend to the side 
  • Scalene Muscles: Starts within the cervical column of the neck and are accountable for moving the first and second ribs
  • Levator Scapulae: Begins between the first and fourth vertebrae and allows movement of the shoulder blade in an upward and downward motion
  • Obliques Capitis Superior: Initiates from the first vertebrae and facilitates extension of the neck and side to side flexion
  • Obliques Capitis Inferior: Begins from the second vertebrae and is accountable for neck and head rotation
  • check
    Rectus Capitis Lateralis: Starts from the cervical vertebrae and enables the neck to flex from side to side


The human neck is a sophisticated and complex structure. It boasts a great deal of ability for extension, flexion, and rotation thanks to seven cervical bones or vertebrae. The bones in the neck play a crucial role for structure and support as well as protect the spinal cord as it exits the skull.

Here is a description of the cervical bones and their functions.

  • C1: Referred to as the Atlas of the neck, the human skull rests directly on it. The vertebra is connected to C2 for a shared body and is the highest part of the cervical vertebrae
  • C2: The vertebra is joined with C1 and offers a way for the atlas to turn. Also referred to as the axis, it allows the head to rotate
  • C3- C7: The vertebrae in the C3-C7 region are pretty much the same as remaining of the spinal column in structure and facilitate extension of the neck. They also enable our necks to move from side to side


There are a vast number of nerves. In reality, the neck serves as the highway from our nervous system and connects with the skull and back to offer an uninterrupted outlet for the nerves.

Illustration Of Neck Nerves

Moreover, our neck protects the spinal cord and nerves to maintain a competent nervous system. Repetitive strain or a neck injury can cause severe damage to the nerves of the neck and lead to traumatic effects.

In case the nerves present in the neck get injured during an accident or a trauma, the nerves of the diaphragm can also be interrupted, leading to death. It commonly occurs where there is an injury to the first and second vertebrae.

Minor injuries usually result in less traumatic effects. In some cases, paralysis or upper extremity numbness is the only after-effect of a neck injury.

Neck injuries

Trauma is the most common cause of roughly all injuries. Our neck provides the primary support for the skull. Gradual strains or sudden movements can injure the neck and the shoulder area.

If there is any trouble in any part of the neck, it can cause significant problems. In case the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves or tendons in your neck are damaged, pain is one of the most common symptoms that indicate a problem.

This pain can also arise from your jaw, head, shoulder or upper arms.

Strain or tensions in your muscles can also cause neck pain. One reason for experiencing discomfort and pain in the neck area is due to overuse. For instance, people who have to sit for extended hours during a long work-shift or stare at the computer screen for more extended time periods are susceptible to neck pain.

Accidents or falls can also damage the neck muscles or bones, resulting in pain and dizziness.

A neck sprain or strain is a soft tissue injury to the neck; it is also called whiplash. It is usually a series of severe injuries caused as a result of sudden distortion of the neck.

Whiplash-associated disorder or WAD typically occurs as a result of being struck from behind. People, who get hit by a fast-moving car in an automobile accident, are likely to suffer from this injury.

It immediately pushes the human body forward, but the head remains behind for an instant during a blow.

As a result, the head is forced to rock up and back. This mechanism tears ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the neck.

If you experience a minor neck injury, you can treat it by applying ice or taking painkillers. In some cases, your doctor will recommend a few sessions of physical therapy. You may have to wear a cervical collar. Neck injuries rarely need surgery, but you may need a long time to recover completely.

Symptoms Of Neck Injuries

  • Stiffness in the neck or upper back
  • Radiating pain to the head or shoulder region
  • Inability to move or severe pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
Woman Having Dizziness


  • Apply ice to the affected area if it’s a minor strain
  • Immobilization of neck in case of a severe injury
  • Seek Professional help for further evaluation
  • Surgery

Bottom Line

The human neck is responsible for doing some serious work every day. It supports our head and contains the spinal cord and nerves, emerging from the skull. Another great thing is that our neck is capable of supporting a fair deal of weight.