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C2-C5 Vertebrae: The Upper Body Control Network

By Chris Brown

Chiropractic uses the practice of spinal and joint correction to treat bodily problems. This works because the spinal column houses the central nervous system, which radiates nerve impulses from the brain stem throughout the rest of the body. When subluxations occur along the spinal cord, it can impact bodily functions wherever that vertebra's nerves reach. Each vertebra is labeled with a letter and number to differentiate it. The C2, C3, C4, and C5 vertebrae are located on the upper spine and house central nervous system nerves that serve the upper body. Injuries, through trauma or chronic wear, of these vertebrae can cause serious problems which require chiropractic to resolve.

Where the Vertebrae Are Located

The segment of four C2-C5 vertebrae are located along the upper and mid neck. They start directly under the C1 vertebra, which connects the brainstem to the spine. These vertebrae are often injured during whiplash injuries such as motor vehicle accidents or falls. Disc compression here, from extended poor posture, can also result in the curved forward head position or tech neck.

What the C2-C5 Vertebrae Nerves Control

The spinal nerves of the C2-C5 vertebrae are primarily responsible for movement and central nervous function with the neck, arms, and upper body. The C2 and C3 nerves helps bend the neck forward and receive sensation. The C4 and C5 vertebral nerves extend farther out through the upper body, shoulders, and arms, responsible for communicating muscle movement and sensation. Additionally, the nerves in C3-C5 helps with diaphragm functioning and breath. And, since all are located close to the brainstem, they are important overall brain-body communication highways that can support some brain functions as well.

What Happens When C2-C5 Vertebrae Are Injured

Because the C2-C5 vertebral nerves are responsible for neck, shoulder, arm, and lung function, problems with these vertebrae result in issues with these body parts. Additionally, their proximity to the brain can cause some cognitive dysfunction if interrupted.

Nerve and vein compression in the C2-C5 vertebrae can lead to:

  • Pain or weakness in the neck, shoulders, or upper arms
  • Numbness in the neck, arms, hands, or fingers
  • Loss of motion range in the shoulder or arm joints
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Headaches or vertigo
  • Flu-like symptoms and fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Upper body paralysis (in cases of extreme injury)

How Chiropractors Adjust 

Chiropractors use a method of correcting C2-C5 dysfunctions called cervical traction. In this method, they stretch and realign the spine by manipulating the neck from the top of the head to clear spinal restrictions.

If you are feeling upper body weakness or neck pain, visit one of The Joint Chiropractic's 500-plus nationwide clinics today. Their affordable service can get your body right at a moment's notice with a walk-in session.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Houston, Tex.

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