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C5-C7 Vertebrae: The Lever Points of the Neck

By Chris Brown

The seven cervical vertebrae connecting down the neck from the skull play important roles in upper body movement, hormonal function, and nervous system communication. Injuries to these vertebrae can result in numerous health problems including, in the worst cases, paralysis and breathing difficulties. Cervical vertebrae can be organized into two sections, the upper cervical vertebrae and the lower. The upper C1-C4 vertebrae play roles in upper body nervous system function and brain-body communication, whereas the lower C5-C7 section additionally aid in neck movement, posture, and upper body musculoskeletal strength.

C5-C6 Vertebrae

Located on the lower half of the neck, the C5 and C6 vertebrae are responsible for many of the similar nervous system functioning of the arms, chest, and hands as the vertebra above. Injuries here can similarly cause weakness or numbness in the arms and hands or even below-the-neck paralysis.    

Because of their distance from the stabilizing force of the cranium, these vertebrae play a larger role in neck movement and are more commonly herniated or fractured than their upper cervical counterparts. The C6 vertebra, in particular, commonly suffers fractures in whiplash incidents, accounting for 20 percent of all neck fractures.

C7 Vertebra: The Vertebra Prominens

The seventh vertebrae down from the cranium, the C7 vertebra, is the key vertebra for neck movement and mobility. As a result, the C7 has more muscular connections than other cervical vertebrae. You can find your own C7 vertebra by feeling along your neck for the most pronounced vertebral hump.   

C7's role as a crucial mobility point makes it particularly prone to injury. Common modern spinal conditions, such as tech neck, most commonly include a dysfunction at the C7 vertebra. Herniation, inflammation, and swollen discs above or below the C7 are common and can result in permanent neck curvature and pain. Stenosis, or the narrowing of the spaces between the spine, is also common as regular movement and compression wears the natural padding over time. Additionally, the C7 vertebra, is, like its neighboring vertebrae, susceptible to trauma injuries.

How to Prevent and Treat C5-C7 Injuries With Chiropractic

Injuries to the C5-C7 vertebrae are primarily caused by trauma (such as whiplash) or poor postural habits. While some injuries are unpreventable, keeping good posture, with the help of regular chiropractic care, can help maintain a natural upright C5-C7 spinal position. Chiropractic excels at this preventative use as it can catch and correct minor dysfunctions before they cause major permanent compression or herniation. Additionally, chiropractic-enabled proper posture strengthens the neck muscles in a balanced way that can lessen spinal injuries if a traumatic event occurs.

If injury does occur, for example following a jarring collision-type accident, chiropractic is effective at reducing pain and speeding healing. Chiropractors do this by correcting spinal restrictions caused by the injury and allowing the body to optimally heal itself. Stenosis-caused restricted neck movement has been successfully released in the past with extended chiropractic adjustments.

The Joint Chiropractic offers affordable, insurance-free treatments to get your neck feeling great. Its walk-in sessions take the stress out of medical care and one of its 500-plus clinics nationwide is always nearby to help. Stop in for an adjustment today to experience the power of chiropractic care for yourself.

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

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