Uncovertebral Joints

Original Editor - Rachael Lowe Top Contributors - Rachael Lowe and Kim Jackson


Also known as Joints of Luschka, the uncovertbral joints are present from C3 to C7.  They are rudimentary at birth and develop and evolve with age[1].  The lateral aspect of the vertebral bodies have superior projections know as the uncinate process.  As the intervertbral discs become degenerative, these projections approximate with the body of the next highest vertebra resulting in degenerative joint changes and forming the uncovertbral joints.

Articulating Surfaces

Formed between uncinate processes below, and the uncus above.

Motions Available

They allow for flexion and extension and limit lateral flexion in the cervical spine.


Thought to reinforce the intervertebral disc posterolaterally and therefore provide protection for structures at risk of disc herniation.  

Prevents posterior linear translation movements of the vertebral bodies.

Important in providing stability and guiding the motion of the cervical spine[1].


Osteophytes on the uncinate process resulting from uncovertebral arthrosis may compress both the spinal nerve root and the vertebral artery as they pass through the intervertebral and transverse foramina, respectively.

The articulations have also been found to precipitate torticollis when edematous and be acutely damaged in severe head and neck injuries[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hartman J. Anatomy and clinical significance of the uncinate process and uncovertebral joint: A comprehensive review. Clin Anat. 2014 Jan 22. doi: 10.1002/ca.22317.