At the bottom of the cervical spine—the portion of the spinal column that descends from the skull—is the seventh and final cervical vertebra: the C7 vertebra, or vertebra prominens. The C7 vertebra differs significantly in structure from the other cervical vertebrae, as its shape begins a transition from the neck into the torso.
How the C7 vertebra is different
The feature that sets this vertebra apart from the other cervical vertebrae is its spinous process. The other vertebrae in the cervical spine either do not have a spinous process or do not have one as pronounced. The much larger spinous process on the vertebra prominens sets it apart from the others—and is the inspiration for its anatomical name.
Problems and treatment
From between the C7 vertebra and the first thoracic vertebra beneath emerges the C8 spinal nerve root. This nerve, which innervates parts of the hand, wrist and arm, can become compressed in the event of a herniated disc or foraminal stenosis in the cervical spine. The resulting symptoms can include the following:
- Numbness or tingling in the arm or neck
- Loss of mobility in the neck
- Pain in the lower arm or in the ring and little fingers
If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc or other spine injury—whether affecting the cervical spine or not—and if a more conservative treatment plan has proved ineffective, consider the Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures to help you reclaim your life and find relief from neck and back pain. For more information and to receive a review of your MRI or CT scan, contact Laser Spine Institute today.