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Spinal Exam

Bones and Ligaments

January 1st, 2017
On this page:Vertebral Landmarks


  • Feel For

  • Costochondral & sternochondral jointsBetween the sternum and the ribs anteriorly. Especially palpate for tenderness.
  • Spinous processesPosterior processes of the vertebrae
  • Interspinous & supraspinous ligamentsConnecting adjacent spinous processes posteriorly
  • Facet jointsBetween vertebrae, lateral to the midline. Especially palpate the cervical facet joints.
  • Costovertebral jointsOf the thoracic vertebrae
  • Sacroiliac joint

Vertebral Landmarks

C1 - feel for the transverse processes between the angle of the mandible and the mastoid, asking the patient to turn their head.
C2 - palpate down from the occiput in the midline. The spinous process of C2 is the first palpable process.
C7 - the most prominent spinous process posteriorly.
T2 - palpate medially to the superior angle of the scapula.
T6 - palpate medially from the inferior angle of the scapula.
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