An understanding of the anatomy of the cervical spine is essential to the classification of injuries. For the purpose of understanding how mechanisms of injury affect the spine, consider the spine as consisting of two columns. The anterior column is composed of those structures anterior to the posterior longitudinal ligament. The ligamentous structures in the anterior column are the intervetebral disk, the annulus, and the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments. The posterior column is made up of the vertebral arch, the ligamentum flavum, the capsular ligaments and the interspinous and supraspinous ligaments. The posterior ligamentous elements resist flexion forces and the anterior ligamentous elements resist extension forces.
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