The C7 vertebra

At the bottom of the cervical spine — the neck and upper back region of the spine — you will find the seventh and final cervical vertebra: the C7 vertebra, or vertebra prominens. The C7 vertebra differs significantly in structure from the other cervical vertebrae because its shape begins a transition from the neck into the torso.

How the C7 vertebra is different

The cervical spine is the uppermost section of the spine. The feature that sets the C7 vertebra apart from the other cervical vertebrae is its spinous process. The spinous process is a bony projection off the back of each vertebra that protrudes where the small bones of the vertebral arch join and provides the point of attachment for muscles and ligaments of the spine.

The other vertebrae in the cervical spine either do not have a spinous process or do not have one as pronounced. The much larger and prominent spinous process on the C7 vertebra sets it apart from the others — and is the inspiration for its anatomical name.

C7 vertebra symptoms and treatment

The constant motion of the cervical spine creates added stress on the spinal discs that reduce shock and friction on the vertebrae. Added stress means greater risk of damage to those discs, which in turn creates a greater likelihood of a degenerative spine conditions such as a herniated disc, stenosis or arthritis.

The C8 nerve root rests between the C7 vertebra and the first thoracic vertebra underneath it. This nerve, which affects parts of the hand, wrist and arm, can become compressed due to 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, and conservative treatment plan has proved ineffective, consider the minimally invasive outpatient procedures at Laser Spine Institute.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery provides many advantages over open neck or back surgery, such as smaller incisions, lower risks of infection and complication, and a shorter recovery time.§

For more information about our minimally invasive procedures and to receive your no-cost MRI review,* contact Laser Spine Institute. We can determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery and help guide you through your treatment options.