In the cervical region the intervertebral discs do not extend the full width of the vertebral bodies. Here are found small synovial joints between the lateral parts of adjacent vertebral bodies. The lateral edges of the inferior vertebrae are lipped and fit the bevelled edges of the vertebra above. Consequently, the cartilage-covered superior and inferior articular surfaces face inferolaterally and superomedially respectively. Each joint is surrounded by a capsule which is continuous medially with the intervertebral disc.
Movement at these joints is intimately associated with movements of the cervical spine as a whole, and so, to a certain extent, they help to control these movements, and thus stabilize the neck.
Figure. (A) Radiograph of the cervical spine showing the uncovertebral joints, (B) details of the uncovertebral joints.
The uncovertebral joints lie anterior to the intervertebral foramen. They can, and do, undergo arthritic changes, which can affect the relevant spinal nerves as well as restrict movement between adjacent vertebrae.