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Functional Anatomy

Functional Anatomy

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Published by: webby2k12 on Mar 29, 2012
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The majority of bones in the head are fused to each other via sutures
to provide a protective shell for the brain. Movement occurs at the
temporomandibular joint, to allow opening and closing of the mouth.
There are several ligaments associated with this joint. The joint capsule
is thickened into a lateral ligament, sometimes referred to as the
temporomandibular ligament. This ligament adds support to the lateral
aspect of the joint and helps to prevent posterior dislocation. There are
two additional ligaments extrinsic to the temporomandibular joint: the
stylomandibular and sphenomandibular ligaments. These ligaments
connect the mandible to points on the cranium. The stylomandibular
ligament runs from the styloid process of the temporal cranial bone
to the angle of the mandible distally. The sphenomandibular ligament
runs from the spine of the sphenoid cranial bone to the lingula of the

54 Head and neck

mandible, which is superior to the insertion of the stylomandibular

The neck is the most proximal part of the vertebral column, the
cervical region. Therefore, it has several ligaments in common with
the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine. These common ligaments
are the: anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments, ligamentum
flavum, interspinous and supraspinous ligaments (see thoracic region
– ligaments
). There is an additional ligament unique to the cervical
region: the nuchal ligament. This ligament runs medially on the
posterior aspect of the neck. Specifically, it runs from the external
occipital protuberance and posterior border of the foramen magnum of
the skull to the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae. The spinous
processes are short in the cervical region of the vertebral column, so
the strong and thick nuchal ligament provides a substitute for muscular
attachment in this region.

See also head and neck; head and neck – bones; head and neck – joints;
head and neck – muscles.

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