An anatomically accurate, fully three-dimensional, geometrically and materially nonlinear, and experimentally validated finite element model of the human lower cervical spine was used to study the intervertebral disc biomechanics. The internal axial and shear forces resisted by the ventral, middle and dorsal regions of the intervertebral disc under the axial and eccentric loading modes were quantified. The ventral region resisted higher axial forces with considerable variation from compression-flexion to compression-extension loading. This may explain the higher incidence of osteophytes in this region of the cervical spine. The higher shear forces resisted by the dorsal region of the disc coupled with the presence of bilateral uncovertebral joint anatomy may account for the occurrence of disc herniation in the dorso-lateral region of the spine.