Medical Definition of Atlas and axis joint

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Atlas and axis joint: The joint between the atlas and axis bones. The atlas is the first cervical (neck) vertebra which is just under the head; it is named for Atlas, the Greek god who supported the world on his shoulders. The axis is the second cervical vertebra; it has what is called the odontoid process about which the atlas rotates.

The joint between the atlas and axis is a pivot type of joint. It allows the head turn from side to side. It is also called the atloaxoid joint.

The ligaments that serve to support and strengthen this joint are called the capsular; anterior and posterior atlantoaxial; and transverse ligaments.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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